Published on May 30th, 2014 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
BMW Keeps Away From the 9-Speed Gearbox
BMW has once again decided to go down a different route, compared to its rivals with new gearbox technology. This time BMW engineers are looking to take fuel consumption down even more by introducing new engine technology and not by using multi gear transmissions.
Mr. Klaus Frolich, BMW’s boss for small and midsize cars in an interview denied that BMW will follow in the footsteps of Jaguar, Land Rover and Mercedes and offer a 9-speed unit on future models. For now, BMW will stick with its 6-speed manual units, 7-speed DCT and 8-speed ZF automatic gearboxes, the advantages brought on by a 9-speed being almost equal to zero, from all points of view.
“We ran some tests. The efficiency difference between an automatic with 6-speeds and 8-speeds is seven or eight per cent, which is a good result. But the benefit for 9-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 said.
And it makes perfect sense. If there’s no considerable change in fuel efficiency, why change a recipe that proved to be absolutely perfect up until now. The 8-speed unit is more than enough for most cars, some manufacturers even using it on high-performance models just as well as on random, small cars. Further good news came from Frolich as well, who confirmed that the M cars will still be available with a manual gearbox as well as ‘normal’ BMWs in the future, until demand eventually dies out, despite huge development costs.
“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 as the development costs are huge but we will keep doing it as long as the customer wants it,” he said.
That’s great news to our ears. The advantage of an automatic gearbox are obvious, with faster shifts and better fuel efficiency but a manual will always take you back and offer you more feedback while keeping you alert and sharp at all times. It completely transforms your car, especially if you’re a spirited driver. BMW will focus on downsizing for a reduced CO2 impact on the atmosphere in the future. The new 3-cylinder and 4-cylinder units will become more and more popular in the line-up, looking to bring the overall fleet average down under the goals set by the EU.