In the 21st century, Americans mostly buy and drive cars with automatic transmissions. That’s not the case in the United Kingdom, where more cars with manual transmissions were bought every year up until 2020. And even today, automatics are barely ahead in sales. That’s because in the UK, everyone, or let’s say almost everyone, learns to drive using a manual transmission.
See, when a teenager goes to take the test for a driver’s license, the car they use for the test determines what kind of license they receive (if they pass the test). If you use an automatic vehicle, you get a license to drive automatic vehicles only. If you use a car with a manual transmission and pass, you get a license for either kind of car. If you get a restricted license for automatic only and then decide later that you want an unrestricted license, you have to take the test over again with a manual transmission.
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The UK has a bit fewer than a million people with automatic-only licenses, and almost 40 million with licenses for both types of transmissions. There is a bit of a stigma attached to the automatic-only license. Read more about the way the UK drives at Jalopnik.