2009 BMW 7 Series Long Term Road Test

2009 BMW 750i: Shift-by-wire in relation to interior storage

May 19, 2009

2009 BMW 750 shift-by-wire.jpg

Benz S550 shifter.JPGOur long-term BMW 750 has a shift-by-wire transmission -- there is no mechanical connection between the shifter and the transmission.

One advantage of shift-by-wire is that the shift lever does not need to be positioned just forward of the center console -- the most common setup. Placing the shifter on the IP (instrument panel) or on the steering column frees up additional interior storage room in the center console area -- room for cupholders and storage boxes.

In a previous life, I worked on shift-by-wire development for a leading automaker. Myself and my colleagues were surprised by the then new (current) BMW X5 and the integral debut of their new shift-by-wire system placed in the center console.

We asked - why would they make it so big and place in that position?

Perhaps that's what people are used to. And this may be a trend because the new Prius shifter is also in a more conventional position than previously. But the Benz S-Class has a small shift lever on the steering column (top right pic), so who knows the overall direction.

Our long-term BMW 750 has the same shift-by-wire location as the X5. And this contributes (but not solely) to a lack of interior storage space in the vehicle.

The center console box is ridiculously small. You can fit an iPod, or a mobile phone, or a pack of Lucky Strikes. There isn't room for say, a hard case for a pair of Oakleys (I tried).

There is a undersized glove box (filled with the owners book) and a small storage box by the driver's left knee. And a cute little storage box above the glovebox. You can fit some CDs or a pair of sunglasses with a small or no case in that one. Except for the tiny door map pockets, that's it.

With regard to interior storage, I realize that this vehicle is not a SUV or wagon. But it's not a Porsche either.

Albert Austria, Sr Vehicle Eval Engineer @ 8900 miles

BMW 750 interior storage box.jpg BMW 750 left IP storage box.jpg BMW 750 glovebox.jpg

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