According to a new survey, learner drivers increasingly want to learn in an electric vehicle (EV).

Frustrating them is the need for driving instructors to offer lessons in EVs.

In addition, booking a test is difficult, and candidates who pass an EV only have a license to drive automatics.

Youthful vision

A survey of over 2000 learners by Gridserve uncovered the changing attitudes of young people.

In total, 48% of learners would prefer to learn in an EV, but only one in seven of those surveyed can find a local instructor who uses an electric car.

Further data analysis found that 41% of people learning to drive in London can locate an instructor with an EV, while only 10% of learners in Yorkshire or the East of England can.

Also, those in the West Midlands discovered that 23% of all instructors could take learners out on the roads in an EV.

Stick of shift

Furthermore, the survey also found that learners prefer to learn in an automatic rather than a manual. Of course, EVs generally only have one forward gear and one reverse. Because of this, they are classed as automatics when it comes to issuing a driving licence qualification.

In fact, 29% told Gridserve—who carried out the survey—that they did not want to learn to drive a manual vehicle. They expect to spend the majority of their lives behind the wheel of an automatic EV, so why learn in a manual?

Current trends

Over the past five years, just one in 10 (9%) parents with children learning to drive saw their children pass in an EV. This is despite 300,000 new electric cars being registered in 2023 and over a million electric cars on UK roads.

The younger generation is driven by the desire to learn to drive an EV, with 40% of those aged between 18 and 24 more likely to pick an instructor if they offered lessons in an electric car.

Three in 10 (29%) learner drivers said it was pointless to learn to drive manual cars as the electric future has arrived. Meanwhile, nearly a quarter (24%) said they are already planning on their first electric car when they pass.

Positive force

Rebecca Trebble, Chief Customer Experience Officer at GRIDSERVE, believes the new attitudes are good news.

“It’s great to see that prospective drivers across all ages are looking to appoint driving instructors with electric cars,” say Trebble.

“It’s more important than ever that people embrace electric vehicles and drive towards a greener future for the planet. Appointing a driving instructor with an electric vehicle is an excellent way to contribute to a more sustainable future.”

Read the manual

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers (SMMT), 70% of all new vehicles registered in 2023 were automatics, both petrol–powered and electric.

The question of manual and automatic licences has been highlighted for several years with the DVSA. The proportion of people driving automatics has increased significantly, and with EVs, that proportion far outstrips manual drivers.

Rod Dennis, RAC spokesman, said: “While manual gearboxes still dominate today, arguably the writing is on the wall for them as electric cars gain popularity. And strangely, as the rise of single-gear cars becomes unstoppable, there’s a chance drivers will end up getting rather misty-eyed about “manuals”.

“After all, switching up and down the gears has been an integral part of driving – and learning to drive – for many of us for so long, and is one of the main ways we feel in control of the car.

“The incredibly smooth delivery of power from electric motors, while no less satisfying, is quite a different experience entirely.”