MUNICH, Germany -- BMW has changed its plans and will add a manual transmission to its new M5 high-performance sedan.
The six-speed transmission will be offered in North America because customers asked for an alternative to the seven-speed automatic transmission.
The M5 went on sale in Europe in April. It arrives in North American showrooms this fall with the automatic gearbox only. The manual will join the lineup in late 2006 or early 2007.
Last fall, BMW executives told journalists the company would offer just the automatic gearbox on the M5 because it was "sportier" than a manual transmission.
But Ulrich Bruhnke, the executive in charge of BMW's M-class models, said a "hard-core community" of buyers in North America prefer a manual transmission.
Bruhnke said no decision had been made on whether the M5 will get a manual transmission in Europe.
"The U.S. is our largest single market, where about 50 percent of our production goes," he said. "If we see the opportunity to generate additional sales, we will respond."
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