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Stick shift to electric: Exploring the evolution of driving habits in Sask.
REGINA -- For drivers in Saskatchewan, weather, upbringing, personal ability, and preference all play a role in selecting what type of vehicle to purchase.
In recent decades the use of the stick shift has fallen off, making way for a wave of newer, automatic transmission vehicles. As time and technology progresses, a third wave of vehicle type is gaining speed.
“It's kind of second nature, so it's the same as driving automatic it's just, automatic to me kind of," said Kenton Dyck, one of a decreasing number of drivers who still pushes the clutch to start their car.
Standard transmissions, also referred to as manual or stick shift, have become less prominent on the roads over the years. It's still fairly common to see standard transmissions in performance vehicles.
Dyck has worked on sports cars like a Ford Mustang and an imported Subaru, but he said standard is his preference for his daily car too.
"I feel like I’m in more control when I’m driving and it's also a lot more fun to drive stick,” Dyck said. “You just kind of feel like a race car driver"
Despite his interest, there aren’t as many manuals on the road, which means there aren’t as many in dealerships.
Retailers say the brands they carry roll out few, if any, new standard transmission vehicles. One Regina dealership believes evolving mindsets could be a factor.
“Thirty years ago when it was a couple thousand dollars cheaper to get the same car in a stick shift, I feel like people would just put up with learning how to do it and just go along with it. I think the way the world is now, you almost pay a little bit more for the convenience,” said Dillan Kuntz, sales manager at Capital GMC Buick Cadillac.
Kuntz believes winter weather could be a factor, but it comes down to personal preference.
Now, some cars don’t need to shift at all, like Jeffrey Leach’s Tesla Model 3. Like a growing number of drivers, it’s become his preferred way to drive.
“I can't describe it other than I just find it's better, it's more relaxing to drive this car,” said Leach.
After the most recent Tesla software update, his vehicle goes from zero to 60 in 2.9 seconds without shifting a single gear.
According to SGI, there were just two fully electric vehicles on Saskatchewan roads in 2009. Now, there are 249.
Only time will tell if emerging technology like electric cars, or even self-driving, will lead to the last of the stick shift.
For now, Dyck says he'll keep driving his standard, and encourages others to do the same.