Will there be manual cars in the future?

what's the future of manual cars

There’s long been debate surrounding the value of manual cars. Years ago, that argument might have centred around the ease of automatic cars and how countries like Australia, Japan, and America have mostly done away with manual options. Nowadays, there’s an even more pressing issue driving the debate. By 2030, we essentially won’t be allowed to buy manual cars at all.

Are manual cars going away?

In short, yes. There’s no set ban on manual transmission itself, but there is a ban coming into place in 2030 on all petrol and diesel cars. That, by default, rules out manual cars, as all electric cars are automatic. The ban will only restrict the sale of petrol and diesel cars, though. Those that are already on the road can continue to be driven. So, manual cars aren’t going to instantly disappear, but they’re definitely on track to becoming a relic of the past.

How long will manual cars be around for?

Manual cars are already in decline as electric cars build in popularity, so it may well be that we’ve done away with our manual-buying habits long before the ban comes into place. Add to that the ease of use and learning that comes with an automatic, and in practical terms, new and old drivers alike might welcome the change. 

Even if you did want to buy a new manual car while you still can, brands are also making it more difficult. With automatic transmission being the preferred choice — 2020 marked the first time ever they outsold manual — many brands are getting ahead of curve by doing away with manual altogether. Manual cars may still be available in more affordable brands, simply due to being cheaper to manufacture. But if you’re looking to buy a BMW rather than a Ford Fiesta, you might have to accept an automatic-only drive on your chosen model. 

As the UK goes electric, costs may also increase as manual cars become more of a rarity. Servicing an electric car is notably easier than with a petrol or diesel car. So, you can expect to need to eventually pay a premium on this, as well as insurance

Will petrol stations disappear?

Other things to consider are the practical issues of owning a car no one else seems to be driving. If the nation goes electric, petrol stations will soon start to disappear. So, while you may have happily kept your car, you might not be able to keep it running. There are currently 8,380 petrol stations in the UK, but Britain’s electric car charging points already outstrip them at 25,000. And that number is due to rise significantly by 2030. 

However, electric car charge points still aren’t as numerous as they need to be in order to support the all-electric switch. For now, petrol and diesel cars are likely to stick around simply because they are the easier choice. Home charging for electric cars also requires private off-street parking which might make it an impossible option for people in inner-city flats. Until electric cars have become a truly accessible and convenient option for everyone, people are unlikely to give up on manuals. 

Should I buy a manual car?

For now, you’re pretty safe to do so. There’s always been the sense that manual drivers are a bit proud of their choice of transmission, saying it offers better control, a better drive etc. Some data supports this idea, for example, Audi, the premium car with a sporty edge, is still performing well in manual sales. Demand isn’t as high as it used to be, but it’s definitely still there. Whether you’re buying or selling your car, manual gearboxes still draw plenty of interest.

The downside is that manual cars are quickly going to become the villain when we all go automatic. Manual cars aren’t zero-emission, and they’ll be punished by the ULEZ, CAZ, and any other clean-driving initiatives dozens of UK cities have planned. In terms of cost beyond fuel, insurance, and road tax, you might end up paying a small fortune just to drive around your hometown. 

are manual cars going away?
Are manual cars becoming a thing of the past?

Should I sell my manual car?

The 2030 switch is still some time away, so either buying or selling a manual car is still a good choice for the time being. If you’re happy with your car then there’s really no reason to rush into selling it just because the gears are about to go out of fashion. By the time 2030 rolls around, your current car may be looking at the scrap heap after a long life anyway, so it’s definitely worth getting as much use as possible out of it. 

You should also remember that, despite increased demand, automatic cars are still more expensive than manual. The same usually applies to maintenance costs and servicing. For those looking for an affordable car, the demand for manual will still be there. Plus, even the ban rolls out, you’re sure to find die-hard manual fans willing to be private buyers for your vehicle.

Looking to sell?

Whether you’re trying to beat the ban or just get yourself a new car, our guides have plenty of useful information about selling your car. 

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