It’s no secret: Manual-transmission cars are a dying breed. The three-pedal, shift-it-yourself gearbox is available on just a small handful of new vehicles, and while there has been some recent good news with regards to market share, it’s only a matter of time before the stick shift is gone forever. BMW’s M division is one of the few brands that still offers a manual option, but it warns the choice will disappear soon.
In an interview with Italian-language magazine Quattroruote, BMW board member Frank Weber confirmed M’s stick shift days are numbered.
“They are fun products, but let’s be honest, the volumes are getting smaller and smaller,” Weber told Quattroruote. “And so it doesn’t make sense to develop them anymore. If you want a manual M, you need to buy it now.”
BMW has said in the past customer preference has driven the company to continue to offer manual transmissions, building a strong niche as competitors turn their backs on purists. In America, M currently offers the M2, M3, and M4 with an optional six-speed manual gearbox. In Europe, only the M2 is offered with an available stick due to a lack of demand for three pedals in the bigger cars, according to BMW.
“We have customers who travel 25,000-30,000 kilometers (roughly 15,500-18,600 miles) a year and don’t want to stand in traffic changing gear,” Weber added.
Enthusiasts seem to be taking Weber’s advice. BMW told us last month that over 50 percent of new M2 buyers went for the six-speed, while around 20 percent of M3 and M4 buyers opted for the manual. BMW saw enough demand in the market to launch a manual version of the Z4 back in December, joining its Toyota-badged Supra sibling, which launched a stick variant in 2022.
While there are plenty of sticks to choose from in the BMW lineup right now, we shouldn’t expect them to stick around for longer than a product cycle, if Weber’s statements are anything to go by.
It’s not all bad news in the world of BMW. Weber told Quattroruote the M3 Touring, offered only in Europe, sold three times more than expected, leading the company to develop a new M5 Touring. And if BMW’s teasers are to be believed, we could even see the long-roof M5 in America.