28 August 2018

Whether a fleet is five cars or hundreds, vehicles need to be selected based on their fuel consumption, their whole-life costs and ease of driving. However, one aspect that doesn’t always get considered is whether the vehicles will have a manual gearbox or an automatic one.

That’s why this month we wanted to explore the benefits of both manual and automatic cars, to provide fleet managers with the information they need to make the most informed choice. 

How will a fleet benefit from manual vehicles?

Reduced maintenance costs

When it comes to manual vehicles, maintenance costs are often less than their automatic counterparts. This is because the manual gearbox is easier to fix should any problems arise during the vehicle’s life, due to the less complex machinery that goes into it’s construction.

However, it’s important to consider implementing driver training if a fleet manager is planning on introducing new vehicles to the fleet.

If an employee is regularly driving in a gear that’s either too high or too low, then this is going to cause unnecessary wear and tear to the gearbox, which could result in increased maintenance costs.

A lower initial purchase price

If a fleet manager or their business is working to a restricted budget, manual vehicles are more likely to have a lower price tag compared to automatic cars. Not only does this help to save money if an organisation is considering an outright purchase, but the monthly cost of a manual vehicle lease could be reduced too.

This means that fleet managers are able to budget accordingly throughout the year, and any potential cost savings can be reinvested in other areas of the business.

Greater control and increase fuel efficiency

With manual gearboxes, the driver will have more control over the vehicle, especially if they’re regularly driving on motorways, where they need to monitor their speed based on surrounding traffic.

If they need to shift down a gear to overtake or avoid a collision, they don’t have this option in an automatic vehicle, since the vehicle chooses the gear, rather than the driver.

At the same time as this, manual gearboxes weigh less when compared to automatic ones, which ultimately means the vehicle weighs less so fuel economy increases. This, in turn, reduces the amount a fleet manager or their business has to pay in fuel reimbursements.

How will a fleet benefit from automatic vehicles?

Increased efficiency in heavy traffic

For anyone that’s driven a manual vehicle, the prospect of continually changing gear in heavy traffic isn’t a great one. They have to maintain control over their speed, keeping one hand on the gear stick, especially if the traffic is slow moving.

This isn’t a problem for automatic cars, all the driver has to do is maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of them and their car does the work for them.

The added benefit to a business is that this may reduce the possibility of collisions, reducing unplanned vehicle downtime and minimising repair costs.

Easier for employees to adapt to

Most drivers will have learnt to drive in a manual vehicle, which means that if a fleet manager shifts the fleet towards vehicles with automatic gearboxes, they are going to be easier to adapt to, rather than the reverse.

At the same time as this, automatic vehicles don’t always require the driver to shift gears, meaning that they have both hands on the wheel at the same time, increasing driver safety and control.

Increased safety from reduced stalling

Anyone that’s stalled a vehicle before knows how stressful that can be, especially if other road users don’t notice and drive into the back of the vehicle. When it comes to automatic vehicles, the chance of stalling is greatly reduced.

The added benefit to the business is that fleet managers only have to concern themselves with unplanned vehicle downtime if something electronic goes wrong with the gearbox, rather than an accident due to stalling.

Further reading

For more information on how to embrace green vehicles, enhance driver safety and how employers could benefit from introducing salary sacrifice schemes, take a look at the list of articles below.


In conclusion, if a fleet manager or their organisation is focussing solely on reducing vehicle costs, then a manual gearbox would be the best choice. However, if they want to focus on comfort and their employee satisfaction, then an automatic may be suitable.

The final choice would depend on how experienced existing employees are with each type of vehicle, so fleet managers could ask for recommendations or input from drivers before making the final choice.

To find out more about our fleet management and leasing, employee benefits solutions and driver services, call a member of our team on 0844 854 5100 or email CSalmon@sgfleet.com.