BMW M will keep manual gearbox alive ‘as long as there are buyers’

Want the manual gearbox to survive? Well, put your money where your mouth is and buy a model equipped with such a transmission. That’s the underlying message from BMW M.

Hagen Franke, head of product management for the new BMW M3 and M4, described the manual cog-swapper as being part of the “heritage” of the German firm’s high-performance division.

“We just love to drive the manual transmission. It has been part of our heritage and legacy since the first BMW M3,” Franke said during an online roundtable event attended by CARmag.co.za.

“The manual is ‘just right’ within our brand and as long as there are customers who also want to have this kind of motoring, we are quite happy to provide this opportunity to them,” he added.

Still, demand for three-pedal performance cars in many parts of the world – including here in South Africa – continues to fall. In fact, despite the new M3 and M4 being produced with the option of a stick shift (in 353 kW non-Competition form), these derivatives won’t be offered locally as there simply isn’t enough demand.

Regardless, we asked Franke what sort of sales split between automatic and manual models the company forecast for its new performance twins.

“We expect on a global basis roughly ten percent of all new BMW M3s and M4s to be equipped with manual transmissions,” he told us.

“That varies a lot by region, so most obviously North America is going to have a higher share of manual transmissions and the rest of the world is below this ten-percent mark. But that differs a lot between each and every market,” Franke said.

Article written by

Ryan Bubear

Ryan has spent most of his career in online media, writing about everything from sport to politics and other forms of crime. But his true passion – reignited by a 1971 Austin Mini Mk3 still tucked lifeless in a dark corner of his garage – is of the automotive variety.