The headline sums up the way things have gone. According to Inside Line only six percent of all 2011 F10 5 Series models that have been delivered in the US are equipped with a third pedal. That is not all that surprising considering the progress of automatics over the years and the softening of the American driver.
Ever take a walk through your local Starbucks or Mega-mall parking lot and glance inside the vehicles parked? The limited amount of stick-shifts is alarming even outside the BMW brand. Consumers pay for what they want, they speak loudest with their wallets and what this all shows is that greater than 90% of people buying cars in the US don ‘t want to shift but rather allow the car to it by itself. Most brands have taken the choice away and no longer bother to offer buyers anything but a slush box. BMW has its ear to the ground and hears us enthusiasts clamoring as being in favor of choice.
What we know is that the ZF automatic transmissions BMW uses in the newest models offers 8 speeds for greater efficiency, can skip shift gears and with the sport automatic versions (software and paddles) can nearly match the shift times of a full on Dual Clutch. That being said, we contend that on the slow pothole ridden roads of the US we still crave connectivity to something greater than bumps and the manual transmission gives us that.
This take rate begs the question as to whether the new ///M5 will be offered with a manual; the outgoing E60 was only offered in a manual stateside. Could we see a paradigm shift where the manual is no longer a no cost option but one that garners a price increase of the standard automatic? Anything is possible when economies of scale and the cost of stocking replacement parts is taking into consideration.