BMW M Boss Says Manuals Don’t Make Sense, But Will Stick With Them

BMW kicked off 2018 by announcing an assortment of different models will now come standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Thankfully, it doesn’t appear that BMW M will be following suit.

Speaking with Car and Driver, BMW M President Frank van Meel said manual transmissions are no longer rational as they are slower and use more fuel than their automatic counterparts. As a result, they don’t “really make sense” any more.

Despite this dire sounding statement, van Meel said most customers don’t care about the downsides and they simply want a manual gearbox. As he explained, “Buyers vote with their wallets for manual transmissions.”

Given the support, BMW doesn’t have any plans to do away with stick shifts on models such as the M2, M3 or M4. However, van Meel left the door for change in the future as he hinted everything depends on the take rate. If demand drops, manual transmissions could go away but that’s not the case right now.

Unfortunately, the clock could already be ticking as van Meel suggested the manual transmission will reach its “natural end” when autonomous vehicles become mainstream. A number of companies are working on fully-autonomous technology, but consumer models are still a long way off. Even when they do arrive, it’s unlikely that driving enthusiasts will throw in the towel and call it a day.

While BMW M appears to ready to stand by the manual transmission, it’s likely that the number of M models offered exclusively with an automatic transmission will grow. Both the X3 M and X4 M are slated to be automatic-only and they will join other automatic models such as the X5 M and X6 M.

  • LeStori

    Actually they make sense in many countries where speed limits are low and speed cameras rife. Not much to so in a stompomatic. Just stomp on the accelerator then stomp on the brake. Might as well have an autonomous car. At least in a truly autonomous car you could watch a movie, play a video game, read a book, fondle your phone, have a grope….

    • Dude

      Driving stick in restrictive areas sucks. I’ve never heard anyone say that they like having a manual in cities because it gives them something to do.

      • Jweisberg

        All my cars are manual and I live in a a city. I could never understand this argument.

        In stop and go traffic you shift into neutral and if you are on level ground you don’t have to press brake.

        Even if you have to press the clutch, clutches today are so light, that holding them down takes no effort.

        • Dude

          I’m not saying that it’s difficult but it’s not like it’s fun or better than an auto in that situation (that’s what lastori was saying)

          • Jweisberg

            It comes down to personal preference. In a sport car or sport sedan, I find automatics to be very boring. But that is my preference.

        • KSegg

          I had a 1995 E34 540i 6MT.

          It was a PITA in city driving – but mostly because it wasn’t a modern MT.

          That said, a new ND MX-5 is a breeeeeeze in city driving.

        • S3XY

          So complicated compared to one pedal driving. Stomp pedal with gobs of torque, let foot off and car slows down using regen.

          EV’s have the best transmission. Try one and you’ll think manuals are sh*t as well.

          • Jweisberg

            Complicated? LOL, I guess you are one of those people who can’t chew gum and walk at the same time.

            I have driven Tesla’s, DCT exotic cars and I still like my stick. That is why it is called preference. But whatever.

      • LeStori

        I drive my manual in a small city of around 5 million. Sure as a commuter vehicle stuck in traffic a stompomatic is good. But the Train is better. A fully autonomous vehicle would be better still

    • Brent Morrison

      What are you smoking?

  • brn

    Buying a manual is much like buying a BMW. It may not make sense, but people do it because it’s what they want.

  • Salvitore Marshalinni

    Shouldn’t such views disqualify one from being the M Boss??

  • SO MUCH FOR BEING A DRIVER’S CAR COMPANY.

    • Awroo

      Why? They’re still making them. But everyone knows that they don’t make sense anymore.

      • HIS REASONING IS THAT MANUALS WON’T BE NECESSARY ONCE AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES ARE THE NORM. A DRIVER’S CAR COMPANY WOULD FIGHT THAT NOT JUST SIT AND WAIT FOR IT.
        BMW “THE ULTIMATE DRIVING MACHINE” TO BMW “THE ULTIMATE SIT AND LOOK AT YOUR FACEBOOK MACHINE”.

        • Awroo

          No company with any sense at all would fight that. Manuals literally aren’t necessary. They aren’t needed. You only get them because you like them. Even on cheap cars manuals are getting axed because autos have gotten more efficient, reliable, and cheaper.

          • NECESSARY? NO. BUT IT’S MORE ENGAGING TO DRIVE THAN AN AUTOMATIC.
            FIGHT AUTONOMOUS CARS IS WHAT I WAS SAYING NOT THE MANUAL SHIFT. SADLY PEOPLE ARE HAPPY FLIPPING PADDLES LIKE A VIDEO GAME.

          • asphrp

            dude. capslock plz

          • TRADE YOU MY EYESIGHT, THEN MAYBE.
            IN THE MEANTIME…

        • lagunas3ca

          Calm down, you’re acting like autonomous vehicles are going to be mainstream tomorrow when really they won’t be for another decade at the earliest.

          • YOU MISSED THE POINT OF MY COMMENT.
            I KNOW AUTONOMOUS CARS AREN’T GOING TO BE MAINSTREAM FOR QUITE A WHILE.

  • Brent Morrison

    Economics will force them to phase the transmission out.

  • Mr. Crankypants

    Personally I think manufacturers should also still offer carburetors, drum brakes and bias-ply tires with inner tubes -you know, for that REAL driving experience!

    • Earl Scheib

      You forgot maroon velour seats.

      • KSegg

        Nothing to soak up ass sweat and farts like VELOURRRRRRRRRRR.

    • brn

      Hand crank up front for starting.
      Gas powered headlights.
      Wooden wheels.

      Let’s do it!

    • Jweisberg

      This is a stupid analogy.

      Your analogy would make sense if the arguement was about someone prefering an old 2 speed automatics vs new 10 speed automatic.

      An automatic can not produce the same driving experience as a manual. Dual clutch in semi manual mode come close.

  • CarBrough

    Manual transmissions always made me one with the car. I meet the revs with my foot actions and shifts for a true driver experience. Now days with automatics and tech its more like a riding experience.

    • Mill0048

      There’s something quite rewarding by constantly honing your skills and challenging yourself to be better. It’s a blast to get those just right heel-toe downshifts coming in hot to a corner or snapping that perfect upshift in the top of the rev range or perfecting your clutch engagement to not upset the ride comfort for passengers. Even the uphill start is fun and shows a driver’s confidence.

  • sidewaysspin

    They’re cheaper.

  • Kagan

    No they don’t use more fuel with equal gears contrary they offer sport and fuel saving at the same time!

  • Todd Colomy

    BMW’s got the WRONG Boss in my opinion.

  • Mill0048

    Agreed. I haven’t owned an auto since 2000 having ten consecutive manuals since. I bought my 2017 BRZ and I intend to keep it indefinitely. Its just too fun. The few cars I would consider swapping it with are not sold in the US or too expensive for me to justify purchasing. It’s durable, cheap, and easy to maintain, so I can flog the piss out of it. 🙂

  • LeStori

    Yes. It is rewarding driving your 8 or 10 speed auto performence car on a 60 mph on a road. Speed cameras at reguar intervals. It took a couple of seconds to get to the speed limit and now you are experiencing the adrenaline rush of “speeeed”.

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