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Growing Number of UK Motorists Switching to Automatic Gearboxes

Previously, driving an automatic car would often be frowned upon and dubbed “not proper driving” by some motorists. This appears to be changing, however, as it seems that more and more motorists are now turning to automatic gearboxes instead of manual transmission. In fact, in 2016 there were nearly 650,000 new vehicles with an automatic gearbox registered in Britain, which is a 55% increase when compared to 2013.

A Shift in Perception

This is quite the turnaround and especially when you consider the bad reputation that automatic transmission has had in the UK for a long time. In other countries around the world, automatic has been embraced because of the easy driving experience it provides, yet in the UK it has never been taken seriously. So, what is the reasoning for this shift in public perception?

Improved Gearboxes

One of the key reasons is that modern day automatic gearboxes are much improved and now offer superior fuel economy and less emissions. Previously, you were restricted to 3 or 4-speed transmissions which required high revs and burnt more fuel, but it is becoming increasingly more common to see 7 and even up to 9-speed transmissions. This allows for much smoother and more efficient driving at lower revs, helping to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

Electric and Hybrids

In addition to this, the sharp rise in automatic sales can also be attributed to the fast-rising sale of electric and hybrid automobiles (the majority of which use automatic gearboxes). The Government’s 2040 diesel and petrol ban has led many motorists to make the switch to an electric or hybrid and this looks set to continue with more restrictions and fees in place for diesel and petrol automobiles. This includes the rollout of the T-Charge in London and the city of Oxford announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.

Easy Driving

The other reason that more people appear to be opting for automatic over manual is the fact that it is much easier. It can make driving much more relaxing and especially in heavy traffic where you are constantly decelerating, stopping, starting and accelerating. This can become stressful and tiresome in a manual, but is no issue at all in an automatic.

The Future

With the bad reputation crumbling away, it is easy to see more people making the switch and even learning to drive in an automatic instead of a manual. This will be key, as passing your test in an automatic will only license you to operate an automatic. When new motorists begin doing this, it will market the end for manual transmission.


Generally, automatic automobiles cost more than manual to buy. However, you can still find them at affordable prices from dealerships like AA Cars. In addition to this, automatics tend to hold their value better than manual because there is not so much wear and tear. As a result, they can actually be a smart financial investment too.

Although there will always be purists who stick to manual, it is easy to see more and more making the change to automatic and particularly with the reputation improving and the rise of electric and hybrid vehicles.

Article By: Will Long

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