Automatic For The Pupil

DCS driver training is going auto!

Over the years I’ve been doing this job, it’s been fascinating to note the changes that have occurred in the industry, some subtle, some not so. A decade might not seem like a long time, but when you consider that, back when I was considering Instructor training, diesels were still outselling petrol engines, the automotive landscape was very different indeed from today!

With prices of £2+ a litre currently at the pumps, and – of course – the major impact that subsequent research has had on the public perception, it’s no wonder that the once mighty diesel is now headed for the scrapyard.

One other change which has (slowly) crept up on the driver training industry is the, up until recently, thorny issue of the much-maligned automatic. Back in 2015, just 6% of driving tests were conducted in an auto. 4 years later (the last set of data available), this had risen to over 10% – with a very significant 16% of female candidates preferring to go with auto over manual.

There’s a great article on the marmalade site here regarding the future for manual / auto if you want a bit more background on the figures above. You’ll notice one figure stands out above most others – 2030. This is the year when automatic driving tests are expected to overtake manuals in England. And it could come a lot sooner!

Ditching the stick

So why now for DCS?

Well, to say it was not an easy decision is to put it mildly. I’ve sat next to hundreds of (hopefully!) happy manual test candidates since the early 2010’s, and on the face of it there was never any reason to make the switch before now. Having said that, the plan to go auto was started well over a year ago, based on a few points, some anecdotal, some personal, and some based on statistics. Some of those reasons are:

  • New auto car registrations overtook manual for the first time ever in 2021
  • Every major franchise operator in the sector is advising its trainee instructors to go auto
  • In the areas of Oswestry, Llanymynech, Four Crosses, Welshpool there is very little current provision for auto lessons
  • I’ve noticed a subtle – but very distinct – shift in new driver’s familiarity with manual gear shifts over the past few years (one of my theories for this is that, at least among my student cohort, the new driver no longer gets to see EV owning parents changing gear
  • As much as I’ve loved the Focus, its traditional petrol engine now feels a bit of a dinosaur in 2022. From an environmental perspective, I’m not in a great sector, obviously. So there’s a certain responsibility to do as much as possible within all means and capabilities to reduce my business’ impact on the environment
  • I receive at least one enquiry a week on average for auto lessons – up from around 5 per year pre covid
  • The right vehicle presented itself at the right time (see below)

Moving on

So that’s the story! The car I will be inviting students to take control of, from Winter 2022, is the new Toyota Yaris Cross Hybrid. Whilst not fully EV, it’s a great stepping stone towards that, with a significantly reduced environmental impact than all of my previous training cars. I hope you like it!

I’m very excited to bring this brand new addition to driver training in the Oswestry, Llanymynech and Four Crosses areas from December 2022. And in the meantime, all current and future students can look forward to the same excellent high service as always.

Till next time, stay safe and well.

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