Albert Biermann, BMW M's head of engineering believes that the end is nigh for manual because not enough people want them anymore. Even now, it is only the US market that gets the choice.
“Last year, maybe 15-20 percent of our M5s in the US were manuals and maybe this year it will be 15 percent. It’s declining,” Biermann told Inside Line.
When the E60 M5 was released with its seven-speed SMG, it was pressure from US customers that moved BMW to offer a row-your-own option.
Despite similar pressure from European customers, there just wasn't the demand to offer it on the continent. It may also have had something to do with manual M5s hobbled with software-enforced performance limitations to prevent damage.
BMW's original reasoning for the E60 to be offered exclusively with the SMG clutchless manual was that the internal configuration of the transmission made it impossible for a manual to be usable by humans.
Biermann says that engineering costs are climbing and profitably has evaporated for the manual.
“Theoretically the stick is cheaper, but it’s very low volumes and we have to strengthen everything in the gearbox and find space for the shifter and another pedal, so it doesn’t work out cheaper."
Perhaps in anticipation of hyper-ventilating M3 owners, Biermann issued a reassurance that the M3 will continue to be offered in both M-DCT and manual versions.
“The M3 needs to have a stick shift,' he said. "It will always have a stick shift.”
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