The Reason Why BMW Isn't Giving Up On The Manual Transmission

The Germans have always done things a little differently. Just look at Oktoberfest, dubbed the world's largest "public festival" held to honor "Bavarian tradition." Those quotes are 100% intended to emphasize the sarcasm that everyone knows this is just an excuse for more than six million people to drink lots and lots of beer for two weeks straight starting in September. More like Beervarian festival, right?

According to The New York Times, a paltry 18% of drivers in the United States know how to drive a stick shift, likely due in no small part to the fact that during the 2021 model year, only 1% of cars made for sale in the United States offered a manual transmission option.

The Italian supercar maker Lamborghini has washed its hands of manual shifters. A move likely influenced by parent company Volkswagen (which owns the Italian supercar company but sells it through its Audi division) has decided to do away with manual transmissions in all of its cars. Even Chevy removed the four-on-the-floor option in its Corvettes. So in an age when manual transmissions are going extinct, BWM is taking a hard left when everyone else seems to be turning right.

Sticking it to the man

The Bavarian carmaker is double clutching against the flow of traffic because half of the M2 series "Beamers" purchased are being ordered with stick shift. Frank van Meel, head of the M series line, said in an interview with Autocar that every second M2 "car is bought with a manual" because drivers want to "tame the beast," and the only way they can do that is with a manual gearbox.

Van Meel added that even though the manual gearbox is heavier, slower, and gives the car worse gas mileage, "the fanbase really love the manual." Quite simply, getting rid of the manual transmission option doesn't make business sense because it's just too popular. In fact, according to Van Meel, "the US is the biggest market" for these stick-equipped M2s (via Autocar), a statement that flies in the face of the perception that manual transmissions are a dying breed.

The new 2023 M2 models — with and without sticks — won't appear on showroom floors until the end of 2022, but customers can order a 6-speed manual option on both the M3 and M4 models.