Skip to main content

BMW drops manual transmission option for M5 and M6 due to low demand

BMW M5
Image used with permission by copyright holder
The slow decline of the manual transmission is one of the saddest trends in the auto industry today, but despite the fact that petrolheads swear by them, demand for those good ol’ stick shifts drops every year. Passion is one thing, but if buyers don’t speak with their wallets, automakers don’t really care.

And that movement has claimed yet another pair of victims, as Car and Driver reports the BMW M5 and M6 will drop their six-speed manual options when production for the current generation ends this fall. Frank van Meel, CEO of the brand’s M division, said, “Demand had dropped to zero,” meaning that the duo will equip dual-clutch transmissions exclusively going forward.

That saddest part of the whole ordeal is that the six-speed manual was developed specifically for the U.S. market. The twin-turbo, 4.4-liter V8 that powers both the M5 and M6 produces so much power — 560 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque to be exact — the vehicles’ engine control units needed extensive retuning to preserve transmission health, a move that required significant investment by BMW. Unfortunately, BMW’s effort was not reflected in the sales numbers.

The anti-stick movement is not a new one in our industry. Van Meel went on record last year, saying, “From a technical standpoint, the future doesn’t look bright for manual gearboxes. The [dual-clutch transmission] and auto ‘boxes are faster and they have better fuel consumption.”

BMW is not alone in this view, as many automakers have decided dual-clutch technology is the most efficient way for its customers to change gear. Recently, Porsche axed the manual from its hardcore 911 GT3 RS and made a PDK gearbox the only option.

There is some hope though, because according to van Meel, standard gearboxes will remain available on many of BMW’s smaller vehicles.

“On M2, M3, and M4, the manual transmission will stay,” he assured. But for how long? For now, we’ll hold onto what’s left and hope for the best.

Editors' Recommendations

Andrew Hard
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Andrew first started writing in middle school and hasn't put the pen down since. Whether it's technology, music, sports, or…
Kia EV3: release date, performance, range, and more
White Kia EV3

Kia is on a roll. Hot on the heels of the success of the Kia EV6 and EV9, the company is already announcing what could be its cheapest electric vehicle yet -- the Kia EV3.

The Kia EV line seems to follow the rule of lower numbers indicating a lower price — and if so, the EV3 will end up being the cheapest electric car Kia has released to date. That, however, thankfully doesn’t mean that the EV3 will be a low-end car — it just means that Kia may be pushing the boundaries on electric car pricing.

Read more
Kia EV3 vs Tesla Model Y: Can Kia’s new entry-level car take on Tesla?
White Kia EV3

The Kia EV3 is finally coming, and it could well end up being the best small-size electric SUV to buy when it finally rolls out. It's smaller than the Kia EV9, but it offers many of the same design elements and features. But there's another small-size electric car that's currently one of the most popular vehicles out there -- the Tesla Model Y.

How does the Kia EV3 compare with the Tesla Model Y? And is one vehicle actually better than the other? We put the Kia EV3 and the Tesla Model Y head-to-head to find out.
Design
The design of the Kia EV3 is very different than that of the Model Y, though they're both reasonably good-looking vehicles.

Read more
Entry-level Cadillac Optiq EV promises 300 miles of range for $54,000
2025 Cadillac Optiq front three quarter view.

The 2025 Cadillac Optiq will be the General Motors luxury brand's entry-level EV when it starts production late this fall. But it won't have entry-level specs.

After unveiling the Optiq in November 2023, Cadillac is now filling in some of the blanks on this electric crossover SUV's spec sheet. We now know that the Optiq will feature a standard dual-motor all-wheel drive powertrain tuned for 300 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque, along with an 85-kilowatt-hour battery pack providing an estimated range of over 300 miles. Like other GM EVs, the Optiq will be capable of one-pedal driving, with regenerative braking adjustable via a steering wheel paddle.

Read more