The BMW M CEO seems to be completely over the manual transmission

BMW is phasing out manual transmissions from its lineup, even in its popular M sports cars. The rationale is simple for the automaker: most people don’t want them anyway, they cause production complications, and they are objectively worse than automatic machines in many respects. This has led to the company charging more for the M2 manual versus the automatic outside of the US, primarily in the UK and even the company’s home market of Germany. Listening to the CEO of BMW M discuss this recently is very frustrating.

Talking to car throttle, M boss Frank van Meel said: “The manual is slower and leads to higher fuel consumption (and) sometimes it also has a lower top speed, so the manual actually from an engineering point of view doesn’t have any real meaning anymore.”

His statements became unusual in the era of enthusiast cars in which we live. As electrification becomes a seemingly inevitable reality, many automakers have turned to building cars that enthusiasts will love — despite any associated production issues — because we may never see them again. The Cadillac Blackwing’s three-pedal twin is the best example of this. Keep in mind that the third-generation CTS-V, which preceded the new CT5-V Blackwing, was automatic only. This decision was reversed even though GM engineers realized that the manual was not as fast, efficient or sophisticated as modern cars. It’s much more fun.

Many could reasonably expect BMW M to be one of the white knights of manual transmissions, but that doesn’t appear to be the case anymore. Customers want evidence that simply proves they can “ride the beast,” Van Meel said, an odd statement considering the brand was previously defined by the stick shift.

It must be said that the situation in continental Europe and the United Kingdom in terms of emissions regulations and perception of cars is not the same as in the United States. BMW still offers stick shift here at no extra cost over the M2. The United States is the world’s largest market for enthusiast vehicles and sports cars. However, in Europe, people are not so keen on period cars, and this of course includes non-utilitarian sports cars.

Brands like Acura, Cadillac, Toyota, Mazda, Ford and others prove that there is still money to be made in catering to enthusiasts who want three pedals. BMW used to be the champion of the case. Now, not so much. Records taken by a few seconds at the Nürburgring seem more important.

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