Despite the market trend and evidently dwindling sales of the manual, BMW M is going against the grain and promises that it's keeping the manual transmission alive. That's according to BMW M chief Frank van Meel, as reported by the UK's Autocar.
The BMW M boss cited the demand for the stick shift based on the orders for the M2. According to van Meel, 50 percent of the M2 orders are for the manual, which makes the company determined to keep it alive for as long as possible despite the disadvantages the row-your-own transmission comes with.
Gallery: 2023 BMW M2 Prototype: First Drive
"From a technical viewpoint, there's little reason to save it. It’s heavier, it's slower and you get worse fuel consumption than the alternative. But the customer and the fanbase really love the manual. It gives a connection to allow them to demonstrate they can tame the beast - and that’s the point. We want to keep it," van Meel told Autocar.
Several companies have already ditched or have announced the slow death of manual transmission in their lineups. Volkswagen said that stick-shifts will retire by 2030. On the other hand, Mercedes-Benz announced that it will gradually eliminate manual gearboxes as early as 2023.
Manual gearboxes are part of the emotional appeal of BMW M cars, according to van Meel. He cited that the US is its biggest market for manual M cars and as long as customers say they want it, "then amazing."
"For the M2, every second car is bought with a manual. People want to say they can handle the beast. If they have a way of showing they can do that, then they want it - and a manual gearbox is part of that," van Meel added.
The next-generation M2's debut is happening this year and although the M2 prototype we drove comes with an eight-speed automatic, a six-speed manual gearbox has been confirmed to arrive as standard.