- The next-generation BMW M5 will not be engineered to offer a manual transmission.
- The M division's head of engineering says it is not cost-effective given the manual's low take rate.
- The M3 will continue to offer a manual transmission.
MALAGA, Spain — Stick shift-loving M owners should prepare for bad news, because BMW will only engineer the next M5 or M6 with double-clutch transmissions.
M's head of engineering, Albert Biermann, admitted this week that there were no plans to fit three pedals in the next-generation M6 and M5 because the order rate was too low to justify the added work.
"Last year, maybe 15-20 percent of our M5s in the U.S. were manuals and maybe this year it will be 15 percent. It's declining," Biermann warned.
"The trouble is that nobody wants it in Europe or anywhere else, so this will be the last time we do it, even for the hard-core U.S. buyers."
The M5's six-speed manual transmission has been heavily reworked from its 5 Series origins and sells alongside the seven-speed double-clutch unit as a no-cost option in the U.S. The gearbox will also be a no-cost option on the upcoming M6 Coupe and Convertible. BMW does not offer it for sale on any other continent.
"We just can't justify it anymore. It's a no-cost option, but it's been very difficult to do.
"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."
It's not all bad news, though, with Biermann promising that at least one hard-core M tradition will remain into the foreseeable future.
"The M3 needs to have a stick shift. It will always have a stick shift," he insisted.
Inside Line says: Sooner or later the economics of offering a manual in the U.S. only was going to force this decision. At least the M3 is safe.