BMW Told Us It's Keeping The Manual Alive Because Of American Enthusiasts


It's a simple concept: when there's demand, there's supply.

There was so much discussion about the future of mobility and powertrains at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show, but it’s always good to hear from a major automaker that, despite this massive technological expansion in such a short period of time, driving enthusiasts are still being taken care of. Speaking with BMW M boss Frank Van Meel last week in the Motor City, the future of the manual transmission in both BMW and its high-performance M cars was brought up.

We felt it necessary to inquire about this once again because of the sad lack of manuals in new cars today. "We will continue to offer a manual in the 2, 3, and 4 series for the foreseeable future," van Meel clarified. "The same goes for the M versions of those models." What we were pleasantly surprised and equally thrilled to hear was that "there’s a 20 percent take rate for manuals for the M2, M3, and M4 in the US...and these are the customers who are keeping the manual alive for us," van Meel added. Remember, the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is offered in all three of those vehicles, and European buyers, believe it or not, actually prefer this option.

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But still, a 20 percent US take rate is pretty damn high, and considering the manual is a no-cost option, the business case makes sense. So congratulations, America. You are ensuring the survival of the six-speed manual in these BMWs. As for the larger 5 and 7 Series? Automatics only. Yes, even for the next generation M5 and rumored M7. Can’t win them all.