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#171636 - Sun May 11 2003 09:26 AM Gearboxes
Biggles Offline
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Registered: Thu Jan 09 2003
Posts: 170
Loc: England
In the UK the percentage of cars supplied with automatic gearboxes seems to be about 10%, judging by the adverts for secondhand vehicles. I wondered how this compared with other countries in the world.

The reasons for this low percentage are probably:
1. Automatics cost more.
2. Automatics use more petrol.
3. Automatics are less suited to Britain's roads and style of driving.

Quote from autoindustry.co.uk
Quote:

The list price of an automatic gearbox varies little from the smallest cars to the largest - typically ranging from around £850 to £1,100. This makes them appear very expensive on a supermini car costing around £10,000, but more affordable on a larger vehicle costing £20,000 or more. The percentage of superminis with automatics fell to 5.6% in 2001, contrasting with steady rises in the upper-medium and large car sectors over the same period, to 12% and 71.6% respectively.

Jonathan Brown, Glass's Car Editor, commented, "Over the past five years the number of automatic cars purchased in the market as a whole has virtually stood still, in 2001 equating to 14.1% of the total market. It appears that this is in large part due to falling levels of uptake in the supermini sector, which is increasing its overall market share. True proportional pricing would inevitably improve take-up in the burgeoning small car sector, and in the process help to reduce production costs for manufacturers."





Edited to add quote.


Edited by Biggles (Mon May 12 2003 02:16 PM)

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#171637 - Mon May 12 2003 01:35 PM Re: Gearboxes
fjohn Offline
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Registered: Mon Dec 06 1999
Posts: 2742
Loc: Wyoming USA Way Out West
Good post, Biggles! I haven't thought about the production differences between automatic and manual transmissions in the U.S.
Here, I would say that the automatic is the most produced and sold because auto transmissions have improved substantially in the last 30 years. I used to drive a "stick shift" (manual) because I liked using the engine to help with braking and also,when driving in the mountains, downshifting on steep grades was safer.
Today, I have a car and a pick-up truck...both have auto transmissions.
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#171638 - Tue May 13 2003 02:37 AM Re: Gearboxes
damnsuicidalroos Offline
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Registered: Mon Feb 10 2003
Posts: 2167
Loc: Sydney
NSW Australia
In Australia,New south Wales anyway,you can get your drivers licence to drive using an automatic but if you do so you are limited to driving an auto only.The popularity of a manual gearbox could also be the fact that it is very hard to "push start" an auto,though i have heard that if you need a push start another vehicle can tow you up to a fast speed then you drop the auto into gear.Automatic gearboxes are gaining in sales in Australia also but to me after having owned both types a manual is preferable simply because if I,m broken down in the middle of nowhere a manual is easier to either fix or drive till a mechanic is reached .That said, driving a truck with a road ranger "crash gearbox" isn`t much fun compared to an auto or even a synchromesh.
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#171639 - Wed May 14 2003 04:28 PM Re: Gearboxes
Bertho Offline
Mainstay

Registered: Fri Oct 04 2002
Posts: 974
Loc: Queensland Australia
Bring on the auto's.. with new cars, manuals seem to be confined now to the lower end of the market or to performance cars (which are making a real come-back in Oz). Auto was seen as an expensive luxury feature, but I'd say in the last 10-15 years it's become very much a standard feature. Even 4wd's which seem to be 1-1 on the roads these days are now more and more made with auto.

I think in the city it makes sense. If your stuck in traffic half of the time in your car, the auto is great. If your in the bush or use the highways a lot, stick shift is the go - lots more fun to drive!

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#171640 - Wed May 14 2003 04:49 PM Re: Gearboxes
tellywellies Offline
Forum Champion

Registered: Sat Apr 13 2002
Posts: 5339
Loc: South of England
I'm one of the 10% of Brits who have a car with an automatic gearbox. We have one out of necessity (hand control adaptation) but even if that wasn't the case I would still prefer it. I find they take alot of effort out of driving around in urban and suburban areas. It also performs pretty well at speed on Motorways. It's maybe not quite as lively as the manual version of the car but it's good enough for us.

I drove cars with manual gearboxes for many years but I'm definitely a convert for automatics now.
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#171641 - Wed May 14 2003 04:57 PM Re: Gearboxes
sue943 Offline

Administrator

Registered: Sun Dec 19 1999
Posts: 35719
Loc: Jersey Channel Islands        
I prefer a manual gearbox, mind you the only automatic I have driven was an old mini.

In the UK if you take your driving test in an automatic you can also only drive an automatic, if you pass your test in a manual you can drive either.
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#171642 - Wed May 14 2003 06:15 PM Re: Gearboxes
DieHard Offline
Prolific

Registered: Wed Oct 10 2001
Posts: 1127
Loc: Louisiana USA
As common as automatics are in the states, I have never owned one. Of course it is more difficult to find a vehicle with stickshift other than, as Bertho said, in lower end efficiency cars and sports models. I am driving a 1987 Mazda pickup with 197,000 miles and I plan to keep driving it until it drives no more. After that, I will probably opt for a little bit bigger truck and most come only with auto transmission these days.
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#171643 - Sun May 18 2003 03:55 PM Re: Gearboxes
A Member Offline
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Registered: Fri Nov 23 2001
Posts: 3082
Loc:  
I've only ever driven one automatic transmission car - BORING -.
I did however really like driving my Dad's car which had the gear change lever next to the steering wheel - about the same position as modern lights/indicators controls (It also had a bench front seat!)
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#171644 - Sun May 18 2003 05:45 PM Re: Gearboxes
Copago Offline
Moderator

Registered: Tue May 15 2001
Posts: 14161
Loc: Australia
Contrary to Fosse, I've only ever driven manuals except for once when I had to drive an automatic for a friend and I kept going for the clutch when there was nothing there. Our vehicles spend more time off the bitumen than on it so manuals are better suited to us. If I lived in a city and had to deal with traffic lights, roundabouts, other cars, lanes a manual would drive me nuts and I'd have to go for the automatics.

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#171645 - Sun May 18 2003 07:11 PM Re: Gearboxes
ozzz2002 Offline
Moderator

Registered: Mon Dec 03 2001
Posts: 17230
Loc: Sydney NSW Australia        
I, too, was reared on manual transmissions, and I will never forget the first time I drove an automatic. It was a work car, and I was tooling down Parramatta Rd in Sydney (one of the main thoroughfares). I tried to push the (non-existent) clutch, and left a really nice skid for about 40 metres- I was just glad that traffic was thin, and there was no-one behind me!
I bought an automatic shortly afterwards, and now feel quite comfy with them. However, this leads me to another story...

I went on a trip to USA and Canada, where they drive on the wrong side of the road, and have the driver's seat on the wrong side, too. My friend had a manual and I was 'invited' to drive it from Buffalo to mid-Ohio.
I lost count of the number of times I reached for the gearstick, and almost opened the driver's door! Also, the rear-vision mirror was in the wrong place, the wipers and indicators were reversed, and I had to be continually reminded about which lane to turn into at a T-intersection.

Needless to say, I did no more driving for the rest of my stay... (but I did learn a lot of new swear words and insults )
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#171646 - Mon May 19 2003 03:47 AM Re: Gearboxes
Bruyere Offline
Star Poster

Registered: Sat Feb 10 2001
Posts: 18395
Loc: California USA
I was raised with manual tranmissions as anyone who works on cars prefers them, if you have to pull the transmission it's a royal pain.
THank goodness I was, it's served me in good stead..plus, I learned a few tricks, like shifting without a clutch..not easy, but possible...as lots of my friends drove old cars, collectors is a big word, and you never knew when you'd have to help drive some vehicle out of the way...with the clutch not working properly!
The only place I drove an automatic was ironically driver's ed at school...large station wagons loaned to the school from automobile dealers.
Few people outside the States realize that you do not have to know anything at all about standard transmissions to get a licence..and that, even in my day, seventies when I got my first license..probably only fifty percent of the kids learned standard..even the boys didn't know.
When Americans come to Europe and rent cars, they are at a loss if there are not any automatics available.
Most French cars can be ordered with automatic but, it's not at all common..you are not allowed to take the test unless you can drive standard shift unless you are handicapped and require automatic.

I passed my exam in the States with a standard shift, and it didn't seem quite fair...I was nervous of course and not shifting as well as I should be...therefore the guy made remarks..however, someone taking the test on an automatic car wouldn't have those...I passed it,but it didn't seem terribly fair.

Around where I live, an automatic would be a dead waste, hilly cliff driving, and mountain driving with an automatic isn't really good..I'd prefer shifting any day.

I once managed to shift down when the brakes went out on a family trip...in a V8 van with seven passengers...as I woke up my dad, told him the brakes weren't responding..and he just talked me down..I was fifteen driving with a permit at the time..so, I figured I'd learned a lot more about controling a vehicle than my friends.

Buying a standard shift is risky in the States for resale value...I had a small car that I sold when I left..and had to teach the guy how to do it..thank goodness he came from India where he'd had to learn anyhow...he was a student of mine. I don't think anyone else would have bought the car with a standard shift!

Question, when driving in the UK, which I avoid...we did notice that your weaker hand, for the majority of people, is shifting..when you drive a standard elsewhere does it feel quite different? It's so different for us not only being on the wrong side for us but also shifting with a different hand.

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#171647 - Mon May 19 2003 09:15 AM Re: Gearboxes
Biggles Offline
Forum Adept

Registered: Thu Jan 09 2003
Posts: 170
Loc: England
I'm naturally right-handed, but changing gear with the left hand is just one of the physical skills that I gained while learning to drive. It felt no stranger than learning to work the pedals or turn the wheel. When I use a left-hand drive car and have to change gear with my right it feels very odd and I have to mentally workout where the gears are before moving the lever.

I have driven a few automatics, but I never feel I am fully in command as there is no clutch to disconnect the engine from the wheels. Apart from increased fuel consumption and higher cost of automatics I just feel more comfortable with a manual.

I was amazed at the speed of French drivers when I was there a few years ago. I would be cruising along and a 2CV would zoom past with the engine screaming before slowing slightly for the next bend, which was taken with a lot of body roll, before accelerating along the next straight. Is that why a lot of the cars had dents in them?

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#171648 - Mon May 19 2003 01:12 PM Re: Gearboxes
Bruyere Offline
Star Poster

Registered: Sat Feb 10 2001
Posts: 18395
Loc: California USA
The best thing about a standard shift on the snow is being able to clutch the car into control..I only drove a very short time on snow with an automatic with an older van we'd bought..and it slid all over the place as naturally, I put the brakes on like a dolt!

I know it's mainly what you're used to, however, using the weaker hand (for the majority) just goes against the grain...

French drivers...sigh...room enough for an entire article which I've actually written up somewhere...they are crazed..
It's really each man for himself here...you really have to drive aggressively...
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#171649 - Mon May 19 2003 03:13 PM Re: Gearboxes
A Member Offline
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Registered: Fri Nov 23 2001
Posts: 3082
Loc:  
In Case I mislead - I have only ever driven one car with an Automatic gear change - IT WAS BORING - I much prefer to be in control via the gear stick. Two feet, 3 pedals and can operate all three at the same time (that's how I was taught to drive!) and I also use the gears and the engine as a brake!
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