We still wonder why many street vehicles have a paddle shifter. From one perspective it makes sense, some have gear selector buttons on the consolde or the dash, and no actual means to select a gear.
The paddle shifter becomes the gear selector.
It probably goes like this: "Here is the D button and these dainty plastic paddles behind the steering wheel will enable you to shift gears if you so desire".
Perhaps there is a longing for the H pattern shifter accompanied by a clutch pedal which is truly on its way to extinction.
Lets take a look at a few points:
In the early days of drag racing, when a torque converter was "slow" and a manual was slow to shift. Racers would resort to modifying the synchronizers in the manual transmission (crash box) to improve the power shifts that often led to clutch explosions.
The purest of manual transmission had spur cut gears and no synchronizers. Talk about driver engagement, double clutching, rev matching to upshift / downshift. Does it sound like what a paddle shifter car does it all by itself (aided by technology).
Those were also the days of race driver having callouses on the hand he was shifter gears with. Especially around the classic Nurburgring.
More recently Corvette Racing was losing a competitive advantage by having a shift lever to change gears on the XTrac transmission. A few milliseconds here and there at the end of a lap, and race it makes a difference.
In addition to making a driver's life easier: "Let's forget the clutch pedal except to start and put more wear and tear on the transmission". In a competition environment a paddle shifter is a requirement. For street use not so much.
Why do all these street vehicles have paddle shifters?
Watch and listen...Michael Schumacher (we wish the best) use a paddle shifter.