BMW joining Porsche in fight to save manual transmissions?

This bit of news brought a massive smile to my face. The death of the manual transmission was nearing until Porsche came in with its 7-speed self-shifter. According to reports, it seems like BMW is soon to follow suit. It’s no secret that manual gearboxes aren’t as efficient as automatics. And since we live in these trying economic times, the auto definitely has the upper hand.

To many enthusiasts, the manual is just as crucial to the driving experience as the steering wheel. And hopefully, BMW is recognizing its significance with its latest filed patent. The Munich firm’s application highlights two potential systems:

  1. A traditional manual setup with up to 8 speeds. As the driver shifts gears, engaging the clutch, a computerized module will only allow the driver to shift into a gear which does not hurt the car nor compromise fuel economy.
  2. The second setup would implement a “shift by wire” unit, therefore removing the need for a clutch pedal. Prior to the driver shifting gears, the computer would decide which gears to allow access to. Upon shifting, the mechanical clutch would then be activated by the computer.
I personally prefer the first system, but then again, beggars can’t be choosers. Long live the manual!

[Source: Bimmerpost via Autoblog]

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6 Comments on “BMW joining Porsche in fight to save manual transmissions?”

  1. qabaq Says:

    isn’t the 2nd option exactly what a single clutch automated manual is? the one lamborghini still uses and the R8!

    • el wehbi Says:

      From my understanding, the main differentiating factor is that you actually have a shift-lever to use instead of the paddles available in the Lambo and R8. I think BMW wanted to keep their options open in regards to the patent, but I personally don’t see the second option making it to production… why not just use paddles?

      Again, patents are just another way for them to protect their ideas. God only knows if we’ll actually see any of the above options make it to production.

  2. al6are8 Says:

    That’s great news for proper drivers. I also prefer the first option. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems that the second system resembles that of the Alfa Romeo’s telespeed unit that they had opptional on the 156, and another system Subaru used in the early-80’s.

    Both will ultimately be acceptable for me 🙂

    • el wehbi Says:

      You make a great point as I think it is somewhat similar to the Alfa’s Selespeed unit (older version as the new one uses a paddle-shifting mechanism). Totally forgot about that! Mechanically though, it’s probably a bit different in the sense of how the clutch is actuated, gears are allowed access to, etc.

  3. Mathai Says:

    I’m not against auto’s but it would be nice to have a manual override though 🙂

  4. spdlmtna Says:

    Sometimes I wonder if I should just get a dsg/smg setup… so far I’m sticking to a manual cog.


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