10 Manual Transmission Statistics in the UK: 2024 Update
Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.
Manual transmissions have been the transmission of choice in the UK for decades. They have generally offered better fuel performance and overall performance while being more affordable and readily available. However, this has changed in recent years, especially with the advent and increased popularity of electric vehicles, which always come with an automatic gearbox. Paddle gears, which are on the steering wheel, are also classified as automatic gearboxes.
The result of these changes is that more new automatics are now sold than new manuals and many manufacturers have stopped even offering manual variants of their models. With the UK government stating that no more new combustion engine vehicles can be sold after 2030, coupled with sky-high fuel prices, the increase in the number of electric vehicles sold means that the trend away from manual transmissions will only continue to gather pace.
Below are 10 statistics related to manual transmissions in the UK, including figures related to the sales of this type of car and the number of people that still take their tests in manual transmission cars.
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The 10 Manual Transmission Statistics in the UK
- There are 33 million cars in the UK.
- Approximately 750,000 drivers a year pass their driving test.
- 42% of driving tests are now taken in an automatic.
- The last person that will take a manual driving test could be born in 5 years’ time.
- 70% of all cars on UK roads have manual transmissions.
- More automatic cars are sold each year than those with manual transmissions.
- 41% of used cars for sale are automatics.
- Electric vehicle sales rose by 120% in Q1 of 2022.
- Just 98 of 298 new car models available today are available with a manual transmission.
- Mercedes, Jaguar, and Volvo are among the manufacturers that no longer offer manual transmissions.
General Car Figures
1. There are 33 million cars in the UK.
The UK has a population of around 67 million people. With 33 million registered cars on the road, this means that there is almost 1 car for every 2 people. The number has increased since 2000 when there were 27.2 million cars on the road, and it has either remained the same or increased every 2 years since.
However, the type of cars on the road has changed significantly in the past 22 years. There are ever more electric cars in the UK, and this, combined with the prevalence of cars with paddle gearboxes on the steering wheel, has also seen the share of cars with manual transmissions drop significantly.
2. Approximately 750,000 drivers a year pass their driving test.
Three-quarters of a million people every year take their driving test, with less than half passing. It is possible to take a test in either a manual or automatic car. Those that pass in a manual car can drive either type of transmission, but those that pass in an automatic are restricted to only being able to drive automatic transmissions.
3. 42% of driving tests are now taken in an automatic.
(Direct Line Group)
The number of people taking their test in an automatic vehicle has increased and 42% of driving tests are now taken in an automatic. More than half of the people that do learn to drive in an automatic are aged under 35, which shows that the current trend is definitely toward automatics.
This mirrors trends regarding electric car ownership as more than half of EV owners are also aged under 35, and all electric vehicles have an automatic transmission.
4. The last person that will take a manual driving test could be born in 5 years’ time.
(Direct Line Group)
The UK has pledged to prohibit the sale of petrol and diesel cars by the year 2030, and considering all electric vehicles are automatic, this means that manual transmission tests will become obsolete. The average lifespan of a new car is 14 years, so assuming that the last manual car dies in 2044, the last person to take a manual driving test will be born in 5 years’ time.
5. 70% of all cars on UK roads have manual transmissions.
(Direct Line Group)
The UK’s roads are a mix of new and old cars, with 70% of all of those cars still having a manual transmission. This figure will continue to increase. The large majority of older cars are manual, and these will continue to reach the end of their lives, reducing the stock of second-hand manual cars in the country.
A majority of new cars currently sold are automatic, so more new automatics will be added to that stock, and this trend will only be magnified as the country moves towards electric-only roads.
6. More automatic cars are sold each year than those with manual transmissions.
(Direct Line Group)
2021 was the first time that the sale of new automatics outstripped the sale of new manual transmissions. In fact, 54% of all new cars sold were automatic. This was driven by an increase in demand for electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles which was spurred by increasingly high costs of petrol and diesel.
7. 41% of used cars for sale are automatics.
(Express and Star)
Most second-hand cars sold are still manual transmissions. Last year, 59% of second-hand cars available were manual. This figure was higher in some areas than in others. In Brentford, for example, 72% of second-hand cars available had an automatic transmission.
8. Electric vehicle sales rose by 120% in Q1 of 2022.
(Express and Star)
Electric vehicles have to have an automatic transmission. It isn’t possible to have a clutch and manual gearbox. Therefore, as electric vehicle sales rise, so too does the number of automatics on the roads and available for sale. In the first quarter of 2022, there was a 120% increase in the number of EVs sold.
9. Just 98 of 298 new car models available today are available with a manual transmission.
Such is the demand for automatic cars, and the shift towards electric vehicles that many new models of cars are not even available with a manual transmission. In one study of new models, only 98 of 298 models even came with a manual option.
10. Mercedes, Jaguar, and Volvo are among the manufacturers that no longer offer manual transmissions.
Some manufacturers have completely turned their backs on manual transmissions. Mercedes, Jaguar, and Volvo are just some of the companies that are not offering their new models with a manual transmission model. Abarth and Seat are the only car companies that still offer versions of all their models with a manual transmission. The choices for manual drivers are getting fewer and fewer.
Frequently Asked Questions About Manual Transmissions
Are manual cars being phased out?
Manual cars are not directly being phased out. However, petrol and diesel cars are being phased out, which has seen a much larger percentage of cars being electric and electric vehicles only come with an automatic gearbox.
The government has said that no new combustion engine cars will be sold from 2030, which means that no new cars with manual gearboxes will be available from that year. Existing combustion engines do not have to be scrapped, but it is likely that more and more drivers will make the transition to EVs even in the coming years.
Are manual transmissions more efficient?
Generally, one of the reasons that drivers preferred manual transmissions was because they were more fuel efficient. Automatics came with limited three or four-speed gearboxes, which saw fuel economy suffer.
More recently, automatic petrol and diesel cars have become more efficient, and the difference is minimal. Many of the automatic cars sold in the UK are electric, and they don’t use petrol or diesel at all, so they have much better efficiency.
Do manual cars offer better performance?
Modern automatic gearboxes can have up to ten-speed automatic gearboxes and highly efficient gear shifters. In some cases, the automatic gearbox can change gear more quickly than a person. These improvements mean that modern automatics are much closer to the performance of their manual equivalents, although it does vary according to the make, model, and driver.
Can you still get manual cars in the UK?
Manual cars are still available in the UK, and this includes both new and used models. However, with the phasing out of combustion engines by 2030, the number of manual cars available is steadily falling.
- Related Read: 9 Manual Transmission Statistics in Canada
The shift to electric vehicles and the improvement in automatic transmission combustion engine cars have seen a shift away from manual transmissions and this shift will increase in the coming years, especially by 2030 when no new petrol or diesel cars will be sold. Electric cars cannot be manufactured with a manual transmission, so the manual’s days numbers are limited.
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