BMW may not use multiple ratio gearboxes in its cars, said a senior official of the company. Increasing number of luxury car makers are adopting transmissions with more than eight speeds. But, BMW sees no reason to employ more than eight ratios.
Klaus Frolich, chief, BMW small and midsize cars, talking to a publication said, “The [efficiency] difference between an automatic with six speeds and eight speeds is around seven or eight per cent, which is a good result. But the benefit for nine speeds [instead of eight] is almost zero per cent. Plus, it adds weight, complexity and cost, and with turbocharged engines you have a good spread of torque, so [drivers] do not want to have the gearbox constantly changing its mind.”
Frolich also confirmed that the manual transmission is here to stay in BMW cars be it the performance ‘M’ cars or the regular road going ones. “Of course, with a manual you are slower, but it is more emotional; it now says ‘I am a serious driver, I am a connoisseur’. So, we will continue [to offer a manual] even if only ten per cent of customers want it. That is why we offer a manual M5 sedan in North America. It is stupid – the development costs are huge – but we will keep doing it as long as the customer wants it.”
While BMW claims the addition of ratios more than eight won’t yield many benefits, some manufacturers have already started using nine-speed transmissions. However, BMW begs to differ and the brand over the years has earned the tag of being “the ultimate driving machine.” We hope that doesn’t get lost in the quest for efficiency.