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Motorists gearing up for automatic choice to ease driving in congestion

Automatic gearboxes have improved greatly and are better suited to stop-start driving in traffic. Picture: Andy Russell

Automatic gearboxes have improved greatly and are better suited to stop-start driving in traffic. Picture: Andy Russell

Andy Russell

The take-up of automatic cars has almost doubled in the UK in eight years as motorists look to make driving in congestion easier and the gearboxes keep improving.

Philip Nothard - �automatic cars are becoming much more appealing�. Picture: hpi Philip Nothard - �automatic cars are becoming much more appealing�. Picture: hpi

As congestion on UK roads continues to drive motorists’ frustration levels through the roof, interest in automatic cars is shifting up a gear, according to automotive data experts hpi.

And with the big getaway this weekend with the start of school holidays causing the usual chaos on Britain’s roads, latest insight from hpi reveals that there will be more automatics on the road than ever before.

Since 2008, automatic cars have had an average market share of 26.7%. For 2017 to date, automatics have a 38% market share (435,105 new cars). Last year 927,806 new automatics took to UK roads, almost double the number of automatics in 2008 (437,633).

Philip Nothard, retail and consumer editor at hpi, said: “Traffic problems and just the sheer number of motorists on the road, particularly during the school summer holidays, mean that the situation is not getting any better for motorists who are now accustomed to almost nudging their way around our city centres and busiest roads.

“So it’s no surprise that automatic cars are becoming much more appealing – it’s no longer a clunky automatic gearbox and the pace of evolution has been dictated by high-end manufacturers such as Ferrari and Porsche which have been phasing out the manual option for years. Now, more mainstream manufacturers are following suit and ditching the gearstick because of reduced demand.”

Year on year, the growth of automatic vehicles represents an average increase of 10.3% a year. The biggest jump was between 2014 and 2015, where automatics increased their market share by 18.5%.

Of the top five manufacturers by volume, BMW has the largest share of automatics, having 55.6% of its registrations being automatics, followed by Audi (39.8%) and Volkswagen (22.7%).

He added: “The roads are so busy and congested these days that it’s easy to have an automatic as it is better suited to the stop-start reality of everyday, urban driving. Running costs over three years for popular models like the Ford Focus, Nissan Qashqai and BMW 5 Series are now fairly equal, regardless of transmission, so there’s no reason why an automatic is not a viable option. Depreciation is also better for automatics so they represent better value for money in the longer term.”

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Andy Russell

Andy Russell

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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