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The Automotive World Is Slowly but Surely Saying Goodbye to Traditional Manual Handbrakes
Only 13% of new cars available to UK car buyers feature a traditional manual handbrake; it's a 20% drop compared to 2019. That means almost nine in ten new cars in the UK nowadays come without a manual handbrake.

The Automotive World Is Slowly but Surely Saying Goodbye to Traditional Manual Handbrakes

2023 BMW iX1 xDrive30 Interior2023 BMW iX1 xDrive30 Parking BrakeNew Cars with Manual Handbrakes Statistics2018-2022 FIAT 124 GT ABARTH2018-2022 FIAT 124 GT ABARTH
CarGurus is an automotive marketplace founded in 2006. Its official website also has a dedicated tips and advice page, where you can find information and statistics about all sorts of things car-related. That's where I found the fifth annual installment of the Manual Handbrake Report.

The report shows that manufacturers are rapidly continuing the switch to electronic handbrakes – in 2018, 37% of UK models offered a manual handbrake. Some manufacturers have dropped the feature entirely, such as BMW and Peugeot.

The BMW X1, M230i xDrive Coupe, and M4 Convertible have all been equipped with an electronic parking brake, and Peugeot has discontinued its only model with a manual version of the handbrake, the 108 city car.

Other brands are also following the same pattern – Audi provides manual handbrakes on only 1% of its cars, while Vauxhall has discontinued over 40% of its manual handbrake vehicles. The only brand that still offers manual handbrakes across its product portfolio is Abarth.

Chris Knapman, an editor at CarGurus UK and the author of the Manual Handbrake Report, said, "Since 2018, we have seen a fall of 24% in the number of new cars being fitted with a manual handbrake. It was always likely that the expected 2030 ban in sales of new petrol and diesel cars would spell the end of the manual handbrake – the question now is whether it can even last until then."

Let me tell you more about how each system works - I'll start with the manual handbrake. Even though you might think it's much more basic than the electronic equivalent, the lever-operated one works similarly; it clamps the brakes on a car's rear axle to stop the wheels from moving. This is done by a piston within the brake calipers that pushes the brake pad into the brake disc.

When you pull the lever, the piston is operated by a physical cable running from the rear brakes to the handbrake. As the cable stretches and the brake pads wear, you might need to adjust the parking brake to keep it at maximum efficiency.

Electronic parking brakes use a switch instead of a mechanical lever. As soon as you press it, a pair of small motors are activated, and they cause the rear brake pads to clamp or release the brakes.

Manual handbrakes are less expensive to repair than electronic ones if they do break. They offer a more tactile feel and, of course, that specific noise when you pull them up. They also provide more control of the car once mastered, and you can also use them to engage a power slide (if you're into that).

The electronic parking brake also has its advantages – it requires less effort to operate, and most systems will disengage once you start moving or engage as soon as you switch off the car. It also doesn't need to be adjusted over time. Moreover, it takes up less space in the car's interior and can be used as a hill hold function, preventing the vehicle from rolling on a sloped surface.

What does the future hold for the manual handbrake? As its demise continues, we can expect it to "go extinct" soon. The world is adopting EVs at an accelerated rate – this trend will further boost the elimination of manual handbrakes. That being said, the option will likely become a sought-after feature, as many car enthusiasts enjoy the traditional way of parking their cars. Which one do you prefer?


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