Flemish mobility organization VAB, the largest driving school in Belgium, pleads for introducing a standard driver’s license for cars with an automatic transmission because, with the rapid rise of electric cars, it is no longer necessary to teach candidate drivers to shift gears manually.
On Monday, VAB also announced that it intends to electrify half of its fleet – some 260 vehicles. This is a logical evolution, and its proposal for the driver’s license is supported by the sector federation Federdrive, representing driving schools.
Today, the standard driver’s license is based on cars with a manual gearbox. So, those who pass their driving exam with an automatic transmission get a limited driver’s license. And, if they want the full standard license, they must take the same driving test again in a car with a manual gearbox.
VAB, therefore, pleads for another approach. According to the mobility organization, the standard driver’s license should be based on cars with an automatic transmission. Those who still want to learn to drive a car with a manual gearbox can take some additional lessons in a registered driving school.
France has already introduced similar measures. And also, in Germany and Austria, some additional driving lessons are enough to be allowed to drive a car with a manual gearbox.
The federal government is not opposed to the idea of introducing a new logic when attributing driver’s licenses. However, the measure should not lead to additional costs for those who want to get a driver’s license for a car with a manual gearbox, Mobility Minister Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo) says.
“Our mobility is evolving toward more active and more emission-free mobility, so it’s important for legislation to keep up with this evolution,” Gilkinet reacts. Minister Gilkinet is convinced the driver’s license for cars with an automatic gearbox will become the standard.
First electric training cars
In the meantime, VAB’s driving school wants to set a good example and introduces the electric Cupra Born as its official training car. On Monday morning, the organization revealed the first two (of six) electric training cars.
They will drive in Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges, Sint-Niklaas, and Alken. To emphasize the unique character of the project, the vehicles were given an eye-catching and colorful design created by the artist Patrick Croes.
According to VAB, electric driving is the future, and the organization wants to play a pioneering role in Belgium. It wants to be the first driving school with a fleet of electric training cars. In September, VAB started with a specific EV training for its teachers.
Today, 16 of 260 training vehicles (6%) are automatic; by autumn, there will be 34. And from 2023, every newly bought automatic transmission will be an electric vehicle. “Our final goal is to go to 50% electric training cars by 2026,” VAB concludes.