BMWM to Eliminate Manual Transmissions from – What Does it Mean for MINI?

According to our sister site BimmerFile, BMW is moving to eliminate manual transmissions (and DCTs) from all its products in the next “handful of years”. You can read more at BF but suffice to say it’s a product the marketplace (i.e. what people want) and the complexity of meeting more stringent environmental standards.

According to sources, manual take rates have dropped on the M3 and M4. The E90 M3 for instance had a 53% manual transmission take rate compared to under 20% for the current M3 sedan. The convertible is even more stark. The E83 M3 convertible had about a 50% manual take rate. That has fallen off a cliff in the new M4 drop top with under 10% opting for the no cost manual.

What does this mean for MINI? We know that MINI has committed to having manuals in all of its cars for quite a while now. However that is changing with the new Countryman Hybrid and certainly will change with the new electric MINI scheduled for release in 2019.

But the bigger question is what does this mean for the MINIs we all know and love? If BMW M sees the death of the manual coming in roughly 5-6 years – does MINI as well? The short answer is no. BMW M is dealing with a couple things that MINI is not. For one outright speed is critical to those cars (for better or worse). Manuals are not the fast option and haven’t been for some time. Secondly manuals and even DCTs struggle to be good at dealing with more than 500 hp without being clunky (or extremely expensive). These are issues MINI doesn’t have. Additionally MINIs brand position is directly aligned to what manuals offer.

While we believe MINI will slowly begin to limit manuals to certain models in the next 5-6 years, we don’t see the manual going away from the brand entirely any time soon.