Recent reports have surfaced claiming that BMW’s performance M sub-brand will quit the manual transmission and that the automaker will limit its M models at 600 HP.
Franciscus van Meel, the director of BMW M, stated for Autocar that future models may only give customers the option of dual-clutch or automatic transmissions. This is not a novelty in recent car news, as several other auto makers have reduced or pulled the plug completely on manual transmissions. Van Meel also indicated that BMW may be ready to stop climbing on the horsepower car scale.
“From a technical standpoint, the future doesn’t look bright for manual gearboxes. The DCT and auto boxes are faster and they have better fuel consumption, (and while it is) difficult to say we’ll stick to the manual…we still have a big fan community for manuals and we are not going to take away something the customer wants to have,” said the chief of BMW M division.
However, BMW spokesman, Dave Bushko emphasized that the market is switching more and more from manual transmissions to automatic ones nowadays, which could add some truth to the BMW M reports. In the United States, stick shifts only represent 10% of the auto market with most car manufacturers leaving them behind on the new cars, with the manual transmissions being used mostly on high-mileage models, econoboxes and performance cars.
While manual transmissions used to provide the best mileage, at the moment there are new vehicles available with 7-, 8- and 9- speed automatics. Add the newer dual-clutch transmissions to the equation, and even the best manuals are left behind at high speed. If BMW stops using manual gearboxes, it will resemble Mercedes AMG’s strategy which has no manual transmissions in its line as automatics mean fewer compromises in terms of mileage, performance and drivability.
By Gabriela Florea