Six in every 10 student drivers will not learn how to drive a manual car, according to new research published this week. A study of 1,000 learner drivers aged 17 to 24 found the rising popularity of electric vehicles was the likely reason for drivers’ reluctance to use a manual transmission.

According to the survey by road safety charity IAM Roadsmart, 61 percent of the people questioned said they planned to apply for an automatic-only driving licence. That means almost two-thirds of new drivers will not be allowed to drive a car with a manual gearbox, although those who get a manual licence will still be able to drive cars with automatic transmissions.

IAM Roadsmart says the tendency to prefer automatic-only licences is down to the increasing prevalence of electric and hybrid vehicles, which do not usually come with manual gearboxes. With a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars coming in 2030, the organisation’s research shows 81 percent of respondents said they were likely to purchase an electric car as their next vehicle. Just five percent said they were very unlikely to buy an electric car.

BMW M4 CS automatic transmission

“Our research highlights how young people are being proactive, not reactive to climate issues and the changes to the automotive industry set to come by 2030, which is great to see,” said Neil Greig, the director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart. “What these figures demonstrate is that the traditional split between manual and automatic driving licences is becoming less and less relevant to modern motoring. It’s time that this artificial distinction was ditched as part of an overall review of learning to drive that prioritises experience in all traffic conditions over the type of gearbox you have.

“Until things change however, young people need to be aware that manual driving licences will always open up a wider range of job opportunities for them, particularly as the country recovers from the pandemic. In fact, the acceptance of electric vehicles has charged ahead so much that 70 percent of young people believed that electric vehicles are simpler to charge than filling a traditional fuel tank, citing similarities to charging a smartphone or tablet as well as safety concerns.”

Interestingly, the survey suggested the majority of young drivers will buy their car, rather than financing the vehicle. Some 51 percent of respondents said they planned to buy their next car outright as a cash purchase.

At the same time, just 17 percent said they would use car finance to get their hands on a car, while bank loans were even less popular. A mere 10 percent said they would get their bank manager to finance their next car.