Manual gearbox for Craig feature, CD 195 cropManual gearbox for Craig feature, CD 195 crop


Is it the end of the road for manual gearboxes as their used car residual values tumble?

Automatic-only driving tests have increased sharply – as have sales of new cars without a manual transmission. This exclusive feature for Car Dealer considers the repercussions…

Time 8:11 am, June 9, 2024

Residual values of used cars with manual transmission are in decline, with some models worth as much as 21% less than their automatic equivalents and fewer manual cars for sale in 2024 than ever before – including some manufacturers that don’t offer a manual at all.

Among the manufacturers that no longer offer any new models with manual transmission are Volvo, Mercedes, Jaguar and Lexus, all of which have seen a massive growth in electric and hybrid-powered cars that are only compatible with automatic gears.

Meanwhile, Jeep and Land Rover offer only one manual model.

In 2018, there were 194 car models sold new in the UK with a traditional three-pedal transmission, but in 2024 this has dropped to just 98.

One of the reasons behind the shift – and the fall in residual values – is a notable increase in the number of British drivers taking automatic-only driving tests.

According to Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) data, there were 87,844 automatic-only driving tests in 2012/3. A decade later (2022/2023), this had increased by a substantial margin of 269% to 324,064.

Jaguar is one of four manufacturers in the UK that now only sells automatic cars, for Craig feature, CD 195

Jaguar is one of the manufacturers in the UK that now only sell automatic cars

Meanwhile, SMMT figures show that more than 62% of new cars sold in the UK are now ordered with automatic transmission.

In April 2024, 22,717 of the 134,274 new cars sold were battery-electric cars – almost one in six – which are only offered with automatic gearboxes.

According to data from car sales site CarGurus, the biggest difference in advertised prices between automatic and manual for a four-year-old car can be seen on the Citroen C3.

The average price for a 2020 model with manual gears is £12,442, compared with £15,743 for an automatic model – a difference of 26%.

Other models where automatic models are more valuable include the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage and Volkswagen Polo.

The differences can be seen in trade prices, too, with Cap valuations for all four of the models mentioned being at least 10% greater for those with self-shifting transmission.

Auto gearbox, for Craig feature, CD 195

Sales of new cars with automatic gearboxes are rising rapidly

Chris Knapman, editorial director at CarGurus, said: ‘Between the increasing consumer demand for cars with an automatic gearbox and the rapid expansion of new EV models coming to market, we could be approaching the end of the road for the manual gearbox.

‘Historically, manual gearboxes have found favour for their lower cost compared with automatics, as well as their more responsive nature and improved fuel economy.

‘However, updates in technology mean that many modern automatics are at least as efficient as a manual alternative, and much more responsive than the systems fitted in years gone by.

‘It is likely that manual gearboxes will continue to hold a special place in the hearts of enthusiast drivers for the greater interaction they offer. And of course, manual cars will continue to be in strong supply on the used market for years to come.

‘For those prepared to change gears themselves, opting for a manual car can also be a shrewd money-saving move, with our analysis showing prices for used models are up to £3,466 (14%) lower on average compared with an automatic.’

This article appears in the current edition of Car Dealer – issue 195 – along with news, views, reviews and much more! Read and download it for FREE here

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