Back in the day driving used to be enjoyable. Driving meant clear roads, fresh air on the face and the wind blowing through the hair. It used to be an experience to drive but I’m not sure anymore. Today, besides the pollution and traffic congestion driving has become very painful to drive. It is reduced to a mode to travel between A and B. We have to struggle with gear, clutch, rash drivers, and rush hour traffic to make the destination on time.
After the painful bumper to bumper to drive people say – “oh I made it”. Instead of saying in earlier days – “what a pleasure to drive it was”. Well, we cannot overcome the traffic in rush hour, but we can ease the drive by shifting to an automatic car. If you are planning to change or a buy a new car I seriously recommend considering an automatic option. I will assure you driving an automatic car is easy and will change your life.
Let’s learn about the automatic transmission and explore some of the automatic cars in India. Through this blog, I am hoping to remove some myths about automatic cars. Compare mileage and pricing of some of the popular cars and let you decide whether automatic or manual will suit your needs and driving style.
SHARE OF AUTOMATIC CARS IN USA
I had the opportunity of driving different cars when I traveled abroad for work and leisure. The rental companies usually provide an automatic car irrespective of small, sedan, SUV or sports car. The search for a car from Los Angeles to San Francisco with Hertz came up with the following cars. They are all automatic – [supsystic-tables id=5]
The automatic car is usually the preferred choice in the developed countries. In the USA more than 90% cars are automatic primarily because the government provides subsidies on fuel, it is easy to drive in traffic and automatic is considered a luxury.
CONCERNS FOR CHOOSING AN AUTOMATIC CAR
Automatic cars are growing in numbers and popularity in India but they are still 7-8% of total market share. Besides awareness, the key concerns raised by people are lower mileage, driving is complicated and it is expensive as confirmed by the survey conducted by Nielsen (See the graph below).
Let me address some of these concerns –
Gone are the days when the automatic car used to be a fuel-guzzler. Advancement in technology and introduction of AMT (Automatic manual transmission), you can enjoy similar or even better mileage with some automatic cars. I have compiled a list of some popular cars in India and compared the same model with their manual and automatic versions. Do check the mileage comparison in the last column of the table below.
Yes, the automatics are expensive than their manual counterparts, but price difference has come down from what it used to be 4-5 years ago. For example, Automatic Renault Kwid is expensive by Rs.30,000, Maruti Alto K10 by Rs.32,630 and you will shell another Rs.1,10,000 if you are going for an automatic Innova Crysta or Rs.1,72,000 for Honda City (see the table below for price comparison). The difference in pricing is thinning down because of AMT type of gear and localization of parts. AMT is a semi-automatic transmission. It utilizes a regular clutch and gear setup but automates the action by the use of sensors, actuators, processors, and pneumatics and there is no involvement of the driver. AMT is simple, affordable, fuel efficient and cheaper to maintain. Learn more about various types of automatic transmission here – Types of Automatic Transmission
AUTOMATIC IS COMPLICATED
Contrary to the belief that driving an automatic is complicated and not suited for Indian roads, I will say just test drive an automatic vehicle. You will be pleasantly surprised by the ease, gear, and clutch free driving. It is actually more convenient to drive in tough Indian road conditions and disorganized traffic.
Learn more about various types of automatic transmission here – Types of Automatic Transmission
With the advancement of technology and various automatic formats (AMT, AT, CVT, DSG ) to choose from you can be spoilt with automatic choices. Everyone wants to save that extra penny in upfront and long-term costs, but if you prefer comfort over cost then automatic is the way to go. You will have to shell out extra bucks from Rs.30k to Rs.120k upfront and some extra maintenance cost of Rs.10k to 50k annually depending on which car and gear type you buy, but it is worth every penny.
MANUAL VS AUTOMATIC
Having said that I am in no ways saying that automatic is better than manual. Both transmissions have pros and cons. One type of transmission may suit a particular situation and the other may not suit a particular driving style. The following graphic describes some of the common concerns and motivation factors to choose a manual or an automatic car. This is is not an exhaustive list though.
If we pick Maruti Suzuki, the largest car manufacturer in India, they had sold 900 units of automatic cars in 2013-14. Just 3 years later in 2016-17 fiscal, they sold a total of 94,736 units of vehicles with AGS (automated gear shift), AT (automatic) and CVT (continuously variable transmission). They are aiming to sell around 1.5 lakh units by end of FY 17-18 and achieve 3 lakh mark by 2020 out of total car sales of 20 lakh units planned for 2020. Whether the car manufacturers position various forms of automatic as a luxury or convenience, the automatic market is going to grow. Even though with the advancement of technology, localization of parts, better mileage, lesser cost difference, the automatic cars will still be little expensive to maintain but bring many benefits. We are going to see many more people adapting to automatic cars in India in the coming years, so do keep an open mind about automatic next time you plan to buy a car.
If you are someone who drives for many hours daily in traffic, frustrated with changing gears multiple times, using the clutch continuously, leading to leg pain, back pain, stress, fatigue. And if you are willing to pay little extra bucks for comfort and convenience then do consider an automatic car. I am telling you from my experience driving an automatic is easy and will change your life.
You can read more about various types of automatic transmission here – Types of Automatic Transmission