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The Manual Transmission Isn’t Going Anywhere, Says BMW M Boss

Frank van Meel, the big kahuna of BMW M, recently confessed that future high-performance vehicles would be hybridized or fully electrified. He also confirmed the all-new M2 as the final BMW M without hybrid assistance.
ZF GS6-53BZ manual transmission in a BMW M3 13 photos
The all-new BMW M2 undergoes driving dynamics testingThe all-new BMW M2 undergoes driving dynamics testingThe all-new BMW M2 undergoes driving dynamics testingThe all-new BMW M2 undergoes driving dynamics testingThe all-new BMW M2 undergoes driving dynamics testingThe all-new BMW M2 undergoes driving dynamics testingThe all-new BMW M2 undergoes driving dynamics testingThe all-new BMW M2 undergoes driving dynamics testingThe all-new BMW M2 undergoes driving dynamics testingThe all-new BMW M2 undergoes driving dynamics testingThe all-new BMW M2 undergoes driving dynamics testingThe all-new BMW M2 undergoes driving dynamics testing
The question is, are you surprised? The upcoming Euro 7 standard has been described as a de facto ban on the sale of new internal combustion-engined vehicles, and the CAFE standards in the United States are pretty draconic in their own right. More specifically, the Biden administration expects the industry-wide average to hit 49 mpg (4.8 l/100 km) for model year 2026.

Be that as it may, BMW M isn’t going to kill off the manual transmission. Ferrari did exactly that a long time ago in favor of dual-clutch boxes that are vastly quicker in their upshifts. Lamborghini doesn’t offer a manual either. Before Nissan introduced the all-new Z sports car, Toyota intended the Supra to soldier on exclusively with an eight-speed automatic tranny.

Other than fuel economy and straight-line performance, why are so many automakers stepping away from three-pedal setups? First and foremost, it’s tremendously expensive to integrate an off-the-shelf manual into a car. We also have to remember that automotive type approval is a rather expensive thing as well, but more importantly, most automakers can’t be bothered.

For instance, 54 percent of brand-new passenger cars sold last year in France were specified with two-pedal affairs (think boring CVTs, quick DCTs, and torque-converter automatics). Who can blame automakers for this development given that the consumers dictate what’s hot right now?

The bad news doesn’t end here, though. “From a technical viewpoint, there’s little reason to save it,” said Frank van Meel. “The manual is heavier, slower, and you get worse fuel consumption than the alternative. But the customer and the fanbase really love the manual. It gives a connection to allow them to demonstrate they can tame the beast - and that’s the point.”

The head honcho of BMW M told Autocar that half of F87 orders were for the six-speed manual transmission. “People want to say they can handle the beast,” added Frank van Meel. “If they have a way of showing they can do that, then they want it - and a manual gearbox is part of that.”

 
 
 
 
 

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