BMW Declares 9-Speed Automatics Excessive, Manuals To Stay Photo:

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Tony O'Kane | May, 28 2014 | 7 Comments

BMW's head of small and medium cars has told the press that the German automaker won't be adding any more gears to its automatic transmissions, with the executive saying transmissions with nine or more gears offer "almost zero percent" benefit over its existing eight-speed autos.

Speaking to British mag Auto Express, BMW's Klaus Frolich says that the marginal efficiency benefits of the new crop of nine and ten-speed autos currently in development are outweighed by their mechanical complexity, cost of manufacture, physical size and weight.

According to Frolich, BMW's current range of ZF-sourced eight-speed transmissions offer a 7-8 percent efficiency benefit over a comparable six-speed auto.

Frolich conceded that the seven-speed twin-clutch gearboxes used by the M3, M4, M5 and M6 are less that optimal from a gear ratio standpoint, but offer packaging and durability advantages that can't be matched by the ZF eight-speed.

Meanwhile, Frolich also confirmed that the automaker will continue to offer a manual transmission across much of its product range, including M cars - even though automatic transmissions offer better performance and economy.

“Of course, with a manual you are slower, but it is more emotional; it now says ‘I am a serious driver, I am a connoisseur’," he said to Auto Express

"So, we will continue [to offer a manual] even if only ten per cent of customers want it."

Frolich also weighed in on comments made by Audi boss Rupert Stadler about the impending uptake of three-cylinder engines in mid-size and large cars.

Though Frolich did not doubt that three-cylinder powerplants would eventually become commonplace in larger vehicles, he said that Stadler's claim that they would become the norm within ten years was questionable.

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