BMW M Exec Sees Bleak Future for Manual, Dual-Clutch Transmissions
It’s one thing to eliminate manual transmissions from the most practical vehicles, but it’s another to eliminate them from an entire lineup of high-performance cars. As unpleasant as it is to imagine, this could be the reality for the BMW M division over the next decade.
Speaking to Wheels, BMW M sales and marketing boss Peter Quintus said that manual transmissions will die off over the next several years. “Basically I think it’s six or seven years before there will be no manual transmission, unfortunately, because we still have fans who want manual shift in their cars.”
Currently, manual transmissions are offered on the M2, M3, and M4. As more and more consumers want automatic transmissions, Quintus said he’s not sure if the next-generation M3 and M4 will receive a row-your-own option. Also, a BMW spokesperson confirmed last year that the automaker wouldn’t offer a manual transmission on the new M5 and M6.
Shifting consumer preferences are only compounded by cost concerns. As BMW increases performance on its M cars, it’s becoming more difficult for manual transmissions to keep up. One low-cost solution is to use American transmissions, Quintus says, because they can handle high-torque V-8s similar in output to BMW’s engines. However, he says American gearboxes are “terrible” and “extremely heavy.”
With manuals fading from the picture, it may be reasonable to expect dual-clutch transmissions to take their place. However, these transmissions may lose favor to torque converter automatics in the coming years.
“In the past, the shifting speed of a DCT was much faster and the other big advantage is weight – it’s much lighter,” Quintus said. “We can do the same shifting times now with an automatic and also weight reduction is also something where we made good progress.” He even hinted that DCTs may not be around in 10 years.
What do you think of these predictions? Are the manual transmission’s days numbered? Tell us what you think in the comments below.