BMW M Division Signals Possible Farewell to Manual Transmissions

The manual transmission, once a staple of driving enthusiasts, is facing a dwindling presence in the automotive market. BMW’s M division, one of the few brands still offering manual options, has hinted that this choice may soon disappear.

In an interview, BMW board member Frank Weber acknowledged that the demand for manual transmissions is shrinking. He noted that while these manual M models are enjoyable to drive, the diminishing sales volumes make it impractical to continue developing them. Weber advised potential buyers interested in manual M cars to make their purchase soon, hinting at the impending discontinuation of these models.

BMW has previously cited customer preference as the driving force behind its decision to maintain manual transmission options, even as competitors move away from them. Currently, in the United States, the M2, M3, and M4 offer an optional six-speed manual gearbox, while in the UK, only the M2 offers this choice due to lower demand for manual transmissions in larger cars. But here in Malaysia, the M2 that was launched in August 2023 comes with an eight-speed Steptronic Sport gearbox.

Despite enthusiasts’ interest in manual transmissions, BMW has observed changing preferences, with many customers opting for automatic transmissions, particularly for daily commuting in heavy traffic. Nevertheless, there remains a significant demand for manual transmissions, as evidenced by the sales figures for BMW’s M2, M3, and M4 models.

However, if Weber’s statements are any indication, the availability of manual transmissions in BMW’s lineup may be limited to the current product cycle. The success of models like the M3 Touring, which exceeded sales expectations, has prompted BMW to explore further offerings, such as a new M5 Touring model.

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