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The days of the manual gear change are slipping into reverse as we buy more electric and hybrid cars.

There could be a twist to the tale of reeling in the gears for thousands of younger drivers.

More people are buying automatic cars. The number has risen to 34,698 this year, an increase of 19pc on 2018, while manuals are down 16pc to 72,249.

The switch is quickening up partly because the Government is urging motorists to buy electric and hybrid vehicles which have ‘automatic’ transmissions.

However, the potential downside is more young drivers passing their driving test in an automatic will not be given a licence to drive a car with a manual gearbox. Effectively, those taking their test in a hybrid, electric or automatic are licence-barred from driving with a standard transmission.

The rule limiting use of such cars has always applied. But it is only being discovered by many now that such higher numbers are buying hybrids and electric as well as traditional automatics.

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