Vehicles sold this year with automatic transmissions have numbered higher than those with manual gearboxes for the first time. A study run by Just-Auto has found that automatics have proven more popular despite having higher fuel consumption levels and costing extra, especially in North America and Japan.

Manual transmissions have traditionally been popular in Europe and parts of Asia due mostly to the importance of low cost and efficiency, but the research found that the penetration rates of automatics are on the rise and are expected to account for over half of all global transmissions by 2012.

Just-Auto is estimating that by 2014, additional demand automatics for will equate to the production output of no less than ten major transmissions plants. GM, Honda and Japan’s Aisin are focusing on expanding their current capabilities including establishing new technical centers in China.