Is it better to get a manual or automatic driving license?
Getting an automatic driving license used to be looked down upon as the UK stood firmly as a country of manual gearbox drivers. But the times they are a-changing and according to the last DVLA’s statistics, the number of automatic driving licenses from 2012 to 2018 grew by a staggering 52,6%. And there is a good reason for it.
Choosing a Drivers License and the Differences
Once you decide on attending a driving school you have to decide whether you will acquire an automatic or a manual driving license. If you decide on getting a category B auto license, it means you will only be legally permitted to drive a car with an automatic gearbox. If you decide on driving a manual car in the driving school, you will get a manual B category license which allows you to drive both, an automatic and a manual. Learning how to drive a manual does take some more time and effort and you might not need a manual license in the future at all.
Automatic Gearboxes are the Future
There is just no way around it and the sales figures are supporting this claim. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, in the first 9 months of 2020, for the first time ever, more than 50% of all cars sold in the UK were equipped with an automatic transmission. This is an indicator of an upwards trend that is expected to grow in the future. The share of new automatic cars sold in the UK was 43% in 2018 and 49% in 2019. People are showing an inclination towards automatic gearboxes and car manufacturers are happy to meet the demand.
Reasons Why Automatic Gearboxes Will Prevail
The fact that consumers are leaning towards owning a car with an automatic gearbox is not the only reason why most new cars roll out of production with an automatic transmission. There are several other reasons.
Consumers are getting fond of easy-to-use technologies and automatic gearboxes offer just that, the ease of use. Driving in stop and go traffic can be dreadful with a manual gearbox but it is the exact opposite with an automatic. With the introduction of the dual-clutch automatic gearboxes, automatic shifting became seamless and the drive even more enjoyable.
Electrification of cars
Most of the premium car brands are on their way to slowly “electrify” their vehicle line ups which means there is less and less of a need for a manual gearbox. Electric vehicles do not need clutches or gears because they cant stall like a car with a petrol engine and they operate on a single gear. This means that the majority of electric cars will come equipped with some sort of an “automatic gearbox”. In October of 2020, Mercedes announced they will be slowly phasing out manual gearboxes in all vehicles (petrol, diesel, and electric) by 2030.
They are more environmentally friendly
Even if you consider yourself an experienced driver, there is no way around the following fact. The computer in charge of shifting gears in an automatic gearbox is better at finding the optimal time to shift gears in order to consume less fuel and emit less CO2.
They are just easier to drive
If you live in or around a big city, chances are you are constantly driving in stop-and-go traffic. If you drive a manual, this means you are constantly shifting between the 1st and 2nd gear. To avoid this nuisance, people are leaning towards driving an automatic. We can’t blame them!
Common Myths About Automatic Gearboxes
For most people in the UK, driving a manual car is almost like a tradition. Most people grew up with it. This makes it even harder for them to finally make “the switch”. Some are even afraid of automatic gearboxes because they are more expensive to buy and repair. Let’s bust some myths.
“Automatic gearboxes are prone to failure”
Just like any part of the car, automatic gearboxes demand regular maintenance. If you follow the manufacturer’s servicing guidelines or buy a car that has been properly serviced, you don’t need to worry. Automatic gearboxes require regular transmission fluid and filter changes and it’s crucial you find the right workshop that knows what they are doing. A well-maintained automatic gearbox will be just fine for the next 200 000 miles without major expenses.
“Automatic gearboxes are slow and have a substantial power loss”
If these were the 90’s, we would agree. But we live in an era where no manual gearbox can keep up with a good, modern dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Automatic shifting has become unbelievably fast and seamless which leads to virtually no power loss in between gears.
“Manuals are for real drivers and real men! Automatics are not!”
It is hard to believe this is a common stereotype in 2021, but it is. We think that the type of gearbox you choose has nothing to do with the amount of manliness you possess. It also doesn’t make you a lesser driver.
Choosing What Suits You
There is no doubt in our minds that automatic gearboxes will slowly overtake the entire car market. It is happening right now in the premium car market and will trickle down to cheaper and more affordable cars in the future. If your wish is to try and drive a new manual car then this is the last decade in which you can experience just that. While we do agree that a manual car offers a higher level of interaction between the man and the machine, we still think that getting a manual license is nowhere near as important as it used to be.
Automatic gearboxes used to be a thing of luxury, which made them seem expensive to buy and expensive to repair even today. With time passing on and manufacturing costs of automatic gearboxes lowering, they have become more and more accessible to other, more affordable automotive segments. We would like to end with a quote from Felipe Munoz, an analyst at market research agency Jato Dynamics who said it best: “An automatic is becoming another feature that’s taken for granted in a car, like electric windows.”