Despite all those advertisements celebrating the metrosexual male, India remains a land of machismo, where it is hard to loosen that muscular grip, even in the way we drive cars. This is probably why it has taken so long for automatic transmission (AT) to become popular among Indian commuters. The technology has been around for quite long, but the Indian motorist has always found it hard to let go of the manual gear lever. For some, it’s even the equivalent of the fidget spinner on the road. And AT has long remained an enigma of sorts. There are economic reasons, of course, behind holding on to manually driven cars. But automatic cars mean less work and ease of driving in the challenging thickets of India’s ever-growing urban jungles. For the longest time, AT car models, which are more expensive than the manual models, were also considered to be bad in terms of mileage—that one word which literally drives India’s automobile market. But the new AT models are changing this perception by offering fuel efficiency as well. AT can be gradually seen populating the urban hubs of India, where the automatic gearbox is providing much relief from relentlessly nudging the gear stalk and working the left calf muscle in crazy morning traffic.
By next year, almost one-tenth of the Indian automotive market will consist of AT cars. About 20 to 50 per cent of many popular models currently sold by market majors like Toyota, Hyundai, Honda and Suzuki already have an automated gearbox. According to Magneti Marelli, manufacturer of high-tech automobile components, 20 per cent of passenger vehicles on Indian roads will have Automatic Manual Transmission (AMT) by 2020. No surprises there.