BMW to keep the manual transmission alive due to global demand

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Strong demand for manual transmissions in BMW’s performance M models means the German car maker won’t drop the option of a three-pedal just yet.

Amid a near-universal move away from manual transmissions within the car industry, BMW says it will keep its three-pedal options alive for now – or at least until demand dries up.

Speaking to UK publication Top Gear, a spokesperson for BMW told the magazine there is “definitely enough” demand for manuals among its M2, M3 and M4 performance cars to continue offering the ‘do-it-yourself’ gearbox alongside its automatic counterparts.

“We owe it to ourselves and of course to our fans all around the world,” the BMW spokesperson told Top Gear

In 2023, more than half of the new-generation BMW M2 coupes sold in the US were equipped with a manual transmission – bucking the growing trend of non-performance models which are becoming increasingly automatic-only.

The M2 was also the leading manual seller for BMW in Australia, with 141 of the 479 examples sold locally with three pedals – equivalent to about 29 per cent.

However, the sales volume of manual gearboxes compared to automatics dropped significantly across the M3 sedan and M4 coupes to just 5 per cent (29 of 529 total) and 4 per cent (11 of 244 total), respectively.

In the case of the M3 and M4, a manual transmission is only offered on the least-expensive ‘base’ variants, rather than the better-equipped Competition and CS grades.

As previously reported, the current M2 – launched in 2023 – is expected to be BMW’s final car with a manual transmission, as BMW M CEO Franciscus van Meel announced in 2022 that the gearbox will likely be axed when the existing generations of ‘M’ cars wind up production.

BMW has previously ruled out a return to dual-clutch automatic transmissions for its performance M cars, sticking with modern torque-converter gearboxes instead.

Jordan Mulach is Canberra/Ngunnawal born, currently residing in Brisbane/Turrbal. Joining the Drive team in 2022, Jordan has previously worked for Auto Action, MotorsportM8, The Supercars Collective and TouringCarTimes, WhichCar, Wheels, Motor and Street Machine. Jordan is a self-described iRacing addict and can be found on weekends either behind the wheel of his Octavia RS or swearing at his ZH Fairlane.

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