BMW auto gearbox shifterAutomatic cars now account for more than 35 percent of new car sales as market share of ‘two-pedal’ motors gradually edges upwards. 

So reports Glass’s, which says that improvements in gearbox sophistication and change quality is behind the shift – noting that the three-speed unit common in the 1970s has become eight, nine or even 10-speeds today.

It’s analysed SMMT registration data to back this up; the firm has discovered that an automatic market share of less than 15 percent as recently as 1998 has improved to more than 35 percent today.

What’s more, retained values of automatic cars are also improving. They’ve always commanded a premium, but the traditional 2 percent price increase has swelled to more than 4 percent in recent years.

After two years, whereas an average manual car may retain less than 50 percent of its new price, a manual can hold onto almost 55 percent of its price.

“There are many reasons for this increase,” said Glass’s UK car editor Rob Donaldson. “They are available across almost all makes and models, so the additional choice has helped fuel the increase in registrations.

“In addition, some autos are more efficient and produce less CO2 than their manual counterparts, resulting in lower BIK and tax burdens.”

Question is, how long before automatics hit 50 percent of new car sales: indeed, is the death of the manual gearbox underway?