The problem is the new car market demands automatics. Company cars are nearly all autos, most private buyers perfer autos for themselves or the partner to drive (auto being the lowest common denominator). Most cars spend the first coupla years in the city area anyway (cause thats where the money and people is).
The second hand car market everyone wants a Manuel. No gearbox rebuilds as soon as you buy it, more fun, more economical on fuel, more power, simplier. People who buy 2nd hand manuels userally keep them as they wanted that particular car and won't upgrade every model. People who buy 2nd hand cars userally buy them for themselves.
I think car companies should be more careful about getting everyone into Autos. Its going to hurt resale, people don't want 4 year old auto rep mobiles, well not as much as a manuel in the second hand car market. They should encorage more buyers to choose the manuel options, make it avalible on low and high end models.
In the end a auto is going to be more costly to run, CVT are going to be very costly to repair. A 5/6 speed manuel may make no sense at purchase time because its just as quick as most modern autos, most aussie manuels have fairly heavy clutches so in traffic are a bit painful, but in 10 years its totally diffrent. Autos become extremely costly with more rebuilds, with things buggering up, wearing out and falling off. The manuel just needs its oil checked and a clutch replaced after a few 100,000 km's.
I found in the country type areas more choice can sometimes be had, it seems, people like the manuel car simplicity, ability to roll start it (good if theres no help around), plus its more efficent, more reliable.