For a long time manual transmissions have been disappearing from option lists due to slow sales. If the take rate is low, it doesn’t make sense for manufacturers to continue producing them. Enthusiasts have offered up a simple suggestion: charge a premium for them and let customers have the choice.
Automakers haven’t gotten the memo yet on this, but it is something we could see in the future. Recently, we’ve been hearing some good news about manuals, like the fact that the percentage of cars sold with them is ticking upwards. Also, Porsche is developing a new seven-speed unit for the 911. For fans of row-your-own gears in the BMW M5, the current generation will be the last to offer it.
Even in the BMW M5, the quintessential four-door sports car, the percentage of cars with a manual has gotten to be so low. According to Edmunds Inside Line, M’s head of engineering Albert Biermann had this to say: “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…..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,” he says.
Apparently sales of the manual are concentrated primarily in the United States, which is pretty surprising considering hat manuals traditionally rule the roost in Europe. He also added that, despite manuals usually costing less, the changes they have to make to accommodate it and the low sales mean it adds up to more cost for the manufacturer. According to Biermann, the M3 will continue to offer it though. “The M3 needs to have a stick shift. It will always have a stick shift.” Always? Why is it a necessity for the M3 and not the M5? It’s a curious statement to make, and just indicates to us that at this point, take rates for manuals in the M3 are a lot higher.