The list of new cars offered with a manual transmission gets shorter every year. Sure, dual clutch automatics shift quicker, but there are roller coasters that stretch your face while accelerating and reach triple digits speeds. Few would argue, though, that they provide the same sensation and satisfaction as expertly wielding a machine such as an automobile yourself. The head honcho of BMW’s M performance division, Frank van Meel, seems to agree.
In speaking with CarBuzz, van Meel assured fans that even though it’s a dying breed, the stick will stick around. At least until 2030. “The manual is, unfortunately, not so widespread anymore. It’s more in the segments of the M2 and M3, and the M4. And for those cars, we continue offering the manual, and those cars will run for a long time until the end of this decade,” he said.
However, even within the company they’ve had to fight for it. The M division’s Vice President of Customer, Brand, and Sales, Timo Resch, revealed that BMW’s engineers were puzzled as to why they should make one, citing that the automatics were faster. Resch replied, “We said that’s what our customers asked for. And we really actively listened to our customers, to our fan base. The fans asked for it. They got it.”
It seems fanboys’ internet cries have been heard after all. “We have customers putting up petitions online and voting and pretty much asking for us to keep the manual,” Resch said.
After 2030, well, things seem a bit bleaker for standard gearboxes. The recently released BMW M2 will be the last un-electrified M car, yet, as CarBuzz reports, van Meel does not believe in hybrids for smaller cars. That likely means the next M2 will be all-electric. And unless BMW’s planning some kind of EV manual like Toyota is supposedly working on, it won’t have a manual gearbox.
Of course, a lot of things can change in the next eight years. The calculus for keeping manuals around can completely change if advocates within the organization suddenly move positions or change companies. For now, though, van Meel and Resch still believe that a brand that bills itself as the ultimate driving machine needs a stick.