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      03-10-2014, 08:06 PM   #1

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Post Are Manual Transmission BMWs Really a Dying Breed?

Are Manual Transmission BMWs Really a Dying Breed?

Jason Cammisa of Road & Track provides an interesting perspective on the oft-predicted death of manual transmission. BMW's falling take rate (percentage of buyers opting for manual transmission) is discussed in particular.

The article blames the brand's increasing attraction of buyers who are not enthusiasts for lowering the percentage of BMWs sold with manual transmission, although the raw number of certain manual BMWs sold, such as the 3 Series, remains the same as 25 years ago. So, it's a matter of perspective when it comes to analyzing whether the manual transmission is truly 'dying' in BMWs.

It's not—at least not at VW, which has expressed a commitment to keeping the option available. But the rest of the industry feels differently. BMW, for example, has Chicken Little analyzing its sales numbers. And the company's reps are convinced the sky is at risk.

To wit: Production of the V8 (E90) M3 just ended, and the results are in—45 of every 100 North American M3 buyers opted for a clutch pedal. That includes the convertible, a 4000-lb, V8-powered luxoboat that seems rather unpure. A very good sign.

BMW's 3 Series has grown so large that we're beginning to question its status as an enthusiast car, much less a purist's machine; the current Three has a bigger interior than the brand's first 7 Series. BMW built stick-shift Sevens in the 1980s, but the company doesn't have numbers on how few were sold. Production was so low, it probably didn't pay to count them.

Despite the dimensional bloat, the number of manual-gearbox 3 Series sold annually in North America hasn't decreased significantly in the last 25 years. Meanwhile, BMW's best automatic has evolved from a miserable four-speed to a computer-controlled eight-speed that shifts faster than any human, accelerates quicker, and offers better fuel economy.

But as a result of the Germans' single-minded quest to sell more cars, the brand is attracting incremental buyers who aren't enthusiasts. In other words, the take rate is falling.

Blame the image-conscious consumers who spend $279 a month to lease a heavily subsidized status symbol. And given that some of those amazing lease rates apply only to automatic-transmission models, and that many dealers won't even stock manual BMWs, it's a miracle that anyone buys a stick Three in the first place. The fact that the 3 Series still appeals to the same number of manual-transmission buyers as it did 25 years ago is a win for the stick. BMW just needs to wake up to it.
Catch the rest of the article at Road & Track.

And discuss...

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      03-10-2014, 08:41 PM   #2

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Coming from automatic pickups, and previous vehicles that were automatics, I couldn't imagine driving my current car in an automatic. It's kind of a shame that only me, and a couple of my friends even know how to drive a manual transmission vehicle

I guess it's more of a thrill for me to drive manual, over automatic, since I am new to the class, but I truly believe the manual transmission is being "phased out" if you will.

I can't think of very many compact, or even mid-size cars I see around that aren't automatics.

Although, on the other hand, the automatic transmission has come a LONG way over the years. Very fast shift times, and much more reliable than they used to be. I think this thread will be a good conversation
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      03-10-2014, 09:12 PM   #3
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My son drives a manual because he caught the bug from me. I even bought a cheap Miata for him to learn how to drive a stick, now he is hooked. DCTs are easy and faster than a manual trans but I enjoy the interaction with the car, I keep my phone in my pants pocket, and I entertain myself by driving every corner. My next BMW M3 or M4, I haven't decided yet, will have a manual trans.

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      03-10-2014, 10:32 PM   #4
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What an amazing topic. Kudos to Jason for posting. Coincidentally, I was just going to through a recent issue of SPORTCAR (scca member magazine). It was interesting to see Randy Pobst admit that DCT, Sequential shifter etc were all faster than manual tranny. It's going to take a while for some of us die-hard 6MT(even 5sp MT) enthusiast to come around. It really is hard to watch our art of heel-toe rev match that took forever to perfect, get shredded by rapid downshift, blipping way late into the turn DCT. Even shocked to see porsche go the same route with the new GT3. Turbos are here to stay, and customers love DCT. Even the great Aryton Senna had to adapt when he saw the opposition getting faster and faster. The writing is on the wall, but as long as I'm not in the competition world with the opposition having an electronic advantage, then BMW pleeeease give me my 3 pedals so I can still stay completely involved with our ultimate driving machine. Thanks again Jason for posting. A topic that will never die.
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      03-11-2014, 10:22 AM   #5
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YES! DCT all the way!!!
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      03-11-2014, 10:25 AM   #6
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The writing is on the wall... and has been for some time. If you like manual trans, vote with your wallet and only buy manual trans. Automakers won't listen otherwise.
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      03-11-2014, 10:27 AM   #7

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One thing that the sort of mention in the article is the lack of availability of manuals at the dealership. The dealerships have limited space and are about making money. Most of them don't even stock manual cars for this reason. It makes sense. I recently had a friend who wanted a 435i manual but when he got to the dealership and they had none and told him how long he would have to wait to either order one or for them to swap with another dealership for one, he just got the automatic.
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      03-11-2014, 10:30 AM   #8
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Well I'm two sided for my weekend car yes I love my manual. But for my daily or family cars I prefer the automatic.

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      03-11-2014, 10:32 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Jblack4083
One thing that the sort of mention in the article is the lack of availability of manuals at the dealership. The dealerships have limited space and are about making money. Most of them don't even stock manual cars for this reason. It makes sense. I recently had a friend who wanted a 435i manual but when he got to the dealership and they had none and told him how long he would have to wait to either order one or for them to swap with another dealership for one, he just got the automatic.
Doubt he really wanted a manual! Those who want a manual will wait for it...
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      03-11-2014, 10:32 AM   #10
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Autos are faster & more economical than manuals now!
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      03-11-2014, 10:32 AM   #11

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      03-11-2014, 10:33 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Jblack4083 View Post
One thing that the sort of mention in the article is the lack of availability of manuals at the dealership. The dealerships have limited space and are about making money. Most of them don't even stock manual cars for this reason. It makes sense. I recently had a friend who wanted a 435i manual but when he got to the dealership and they had none and told him how long he would have to wait to either order one or for them to swap with another dealership for one, he just got the automatic.
very true. when i was in the market for a 335i in 6spd almost every dealerships i visited had no standard 335's. i ended up waiting 4.5-5 months to find my car and it happened to be through private seller. no body is buying standard cars anymore which sucks, so the only standard cars are pretty much made to order. while it may be true dct style transmissions can shift much quicker, it's just not nearly as fun being able to fly through gears and feel the car.
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      03-11-2014, 10:33 AM   #13
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I personally don't agree that the MT is alive and well. I never thought I'd see the day where Porsche GT and Turbo cars can no longer be had with MT (maybe GT3RS gets MT is the rumor, who knows), nor can you get any Ferrari with 3 pedals. Hell when I was growing up, it would be almost impossible to think of a sports car that you don't shift yourself.

Personally, I have great respect for DCT, and admit, they will always be faster than MT. But the reason I was dead set on an E92 M3:
- Cheaper to fix. I couldn't tell you where to take the car in my area if the DCT went out, only stealership
- MT is fun 100% of the time IMHO. Even doing 30 mph around the city, it's still engaging.

Don't get me wrong, I can definitely see myself owning a DCT car in the fleet. But not for a car that I plan to keep for a long time. Cars just aren't made to last anymore, and that's a huge factor for me.

The biggest thing that ticks me off is not being given a choice. Not saying that if someone gave me the keys to a 991 GT3 (that wasn't on fire ) I wouldn't take it. But I'd rather have a 997 GT3 just because of the transmission.
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      03-11-2014, 10:35 AM   #14
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actually just read this last night.. interesting stuff
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      03-11-2014, 10:37 AM   #15
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I personally do believe that MT's are going the way of the dinosaur. If not for just that lack of sales (overall), but as a result of government regulation. With tighter and tighter requirements on emissions and economy, manufactures will soon not be able to produce an MT that will meet the requirements. Slushboxes and DCT's are getting better and better, so it's not a complete loss, but I personally will miss that third pedal.

Now, I DO NOT believe that MT's will disappear during this generation, or even next, but I do believe that MT's will be a scarce sight in new cars with the next 10-15 years.

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      03-11-2014, 10:39 AM   #16
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      03-11-2014, 10:42 AM   #17
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In my opinion, no. It's funny this is out but two years ago there wasn't a manual on the lot at my local place. I had to order mine.

Today they have more than a half dozen including a new 335 performance edition and 228.

Massive improvement. Now if we could just get a few actual colors on the lot. Enough with all the shades of grey and black....
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      03-11-2014, 10:43 AM   #18
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First the MT will go, then cars will eventually be autonomous....

I'm just glad the MT is still around for the time being. My next car will be an M3 6MT no question.
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      03-11-2014, 10:51 AM   #19

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It shouldn't be. If bmw can make a bunch of stupid model cars like the 4 series sedan, grand coupes,x4's,ect and who knows maybe a 3 series coupe, i think they can handle giving us manual transmission cars. Its not a money issue or how many people bought a manual transmission car. Manual transmission have always been below automatic in the statistics.
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      03-11-2014, 10:53 AM   #20
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one of the main reasons my future car will be an M4 is because of the manual transmission option

the fact that mercedes or lexus do not offer manual transmission gives a BIG advantage to bmw
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      03-11-2014, 10:55 AM   #21
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      03-11-2014, 10:58 AM   #22

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I think a good DCT is just as fun as a manual gearbox, it allows me to use first gear in hairpins when if I were in a manual I would not. On the other hand DCT cost much more than a Manual, weighs more and also a MT is very rewarding when the perfect shift is executed.

For how much longer will we see MTs? there's no telling with stricter fuel emission regulations as Bear From Jax stated. Just remember that cars will need to get 35 mpg combined by 2020 according to the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) which means DCT and Hybrid might be the norm sooner than you think.

Just gives me an extra reason to want to keep my 6MT M4 until the wheels fall off
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