Why bother with manual car driving lessons?


What is the point of learning to drive a manual geared car?

I have been teaching people to drive in automatic cars in addition to manual cars since 2008. In those early years the demand for automatic was limited to about 5% of enquiries and at the time I was one of only three or four instructors offering automatic lessons in my area. In 2017, in my area, I continue to be one of only a few instructors offering lessons in an automatic but the demand outstrips manual enquiries by around four to one. I accept the evidence is anecdotal but it is unquestionably clear that peoples attitudes towards automatic cars is changing.

The question is – Why?

When people are asked about their choice, the majority tell me it seems easier to learn. Many already have access to an automatic car and they have no desire to change and so cannot see the point of learning manual.

This all comes at a time when many governments around the world are forcing or encouraging car manufacturers to produce more environmentally friendly vehicles. In Europe the targets for lower emissions means manufacturers are increasingly finding it necessary to introduce hybrids to their line up. It is a fact of life that Hybrid cars and all electric cars are equipped with a form of automatic transmission out of necessity.

Cars with automatic transmission are inevitably becoming more available, they are much more fuel efficient, more comfortable, convenient, more fun to drive, and clean. We have arrived at a point where automatic versions of some of the most popular cars are outperforming their manual counterparts. Therefor, it should not be a surprise that many, and maybe most, people consider these automatic hybrids and all electric cars to be very much more desirable. If evidence were needed, their use by taxi drivers must be testament to the advantages they provide.

It is true that not all learners can afford to buy new or even newish cars and for that reason I can see there will continue to be a demand for traditional manual gearbox driving lessons but that doesn’t change the fact that the driver training industry is changing and as we currently exist in an era where instructors are in short supply and therefor always busy, the trend toward automatic is not being recognised. There is a very real risk that the shortage of automatic driving instructors will become a serious problem.