The head of BMW’s M division says that the Munich-based brand will strive to continue to offer manual performance vehicles as long as there is demand, but concedes that there will be a “natural end” for the stick-shift.
Speaking to CarAdvice, Frank Van Meel said that he felt compelled to fulfil the fairly high demand for manual performance vehicles.
“Buyers vote with their wallets. Being an engineer, I would say from a rational standpoint that even though the manual gearbox is lighter than an automated gearbox it uses more fuel and is slower, so it doesn’t really make sense,” Van Meel told the Australian publication.
“But from the emotional standpoint, a lot of customers say ‘I don’t care, I want to have one’. As long as we have these take rates on M2 [about 50 percent in the United States], but also the M3 and M4, we’re going to offer manuals because we listen to our customers. If demand is so high, then why not fulfil it?” he asked.
In South Africa, of course, the only M car currently offered in manual is the M2 Competition.
Still, Van Meel conceded that there was one thing that would eventually sound the death knell for the clutch pedal.
“The bad news is that if we one day have autonomous cars, then the manual cannot work any more. So that would be, let’s say, the natural end.”