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AUTOMATICS dominate up to 69% of used cars on sale in parts of the UK, fueled by the rise of Electric Vehicles (EVs) and a decline in the number of manuals being manufactured, according to new research from the AA Cars used car website.

Across the UK, used automatics make up 43% of the used cars for sale on the AA Cars site, up slightly from 41% the previous year.

The surge in used EV availability may be partly driving these figures, given that nearly all EVs are automatic. The UK’s adoption of electric cars has increased rapidly in recent years, with sales of used EVs rising by 82% in Q2 2023, according to the SMMT.

Manufacturers are also moving away from manual gearboxes, with BMW this month announcing that its new range of Minis will not feature any manual versions.

There are signs that new and younger drivers are increasingly choosing to learn and drive an automatic car. In 2017/18, 163,790 driving tests were conducted in automatics. By 2022/23 this figure had doubled (up 98%) to 324,064.

AA Driving School’s data shows that in January 2022, 86% of its franchisees were teaching in manual cars and 14% in automatics. As of July 2023, the number of instructors using manual cars decreased to 81% and those teaching in automatics increased to 19%.

Chelmsford in Essex tops the table of places with the highest proportion of automatics on sale. Automatics make up 69% of the city’s used car market. Guildford, in Surrey, comes a close second with 66%.

Places with the highest proportion of used automatics for sale

Rank
Location
Proportion of automatic cars a year ago
Proportion of automatic cars now
Percentage rise/fall in automatic cars
1
Chelmsford
68.10%
69.30%
2%
2
Guildford
63.30%
66.10%
4%
3
Croydon
64.80%
65.40%
1%
4
Brentford
72.20%
62.40%
-16%
5
Watford
59.80%
59.80%
0%
6
Slough
54.60%
59.00%
7%
7
York
58.70%
58.30%
-1%
8
Harlow
33.90%
56.70%
40%
9
Stafford
54.70%
56.70%
4%
10
Cambridge
50.40%
55.70%
10%

Rounding off the top five locations where automatics make up the highest proportion of used car stock are Croydon (65%), Brentford (62%) and Watford (59%).

Harlow in Essex has the eighth highest proportion of automatics for sale, having recorded the biggest year-on-year increase with total numbers rising by 40% compared to this time last year.

Places which have seen the biggest increase in automatic used cars for sale

Rank
Location
Proportion of automatic cars a year ago
Proportion of automatic cars now
Percentage rise/fall in automatic cars
1
Harlow
33.90%
56.70%
40%
2
Gloucester
16.80%
25.70%
35%
3
Birmingham
33.00%
44.70%
26%
4
Cheltenham
38.20%
50.20%
24%
5
Colchester
38.40%
50.20%
24%
6
Northampton
40.50%
52.60%
23%
7
Derby
35.90%
46.50%
23%
8
Wolverhampton
43.80%
54.70%
20%
9
Milton Keynes
38.50%
47.00%
18%
10
Manchester
31.60%
38.10%
17%

Meanwhile, Gloucester has the lowest proportion of used automatics for sale at 25.7%. Nevertheless compared to last year the number of used automatics on sale still rose by more than a third (35%).

Mark Oakley, Director of AA Cars said: “As the number of EVs making their way onto the used car market grows, so too does the availability of automatic cars — and automatics now account for as much as 69% of cars on sale in some areas.

“This change isn’t just being driven by the surge in EVs though, as several manufacturers are also starting to wind down production of manual gearboxes in their conventionally fuelled models.

“While learner drivers are increasingly choosing to get behind the wheel of an automatic rather than a manual, and one in five AA Driving School instructors now teach in an automatic, fans of the traditional stick needn’t worry about finding plenty of models to choose from on the used car market for the foreseeable future.

“The second-hand car market has an enormous range of cars, both automatic and manual, to suit all budgets and preferences.”

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