“Second, the offroad community is a closed community, and if you are not part of it, then you are making a mistake. “Third, Italy, as an industrial base, is one of the most difficult, aside from France, because of the labor regulations. Italy is not competitive any more. First of all, you need to pay a lot of money to have a nice Italian company and brand. Then, you need to pay a lot of money to get rid of that company. That was the background situation when I came to meet with BMW. “They asked if I was interested in Husqvarna because they wanted to focus on road bikes. I said, ‘Why not? Let’s sit together.’ It was as simple as that. It sounds easy—and it was easy. We are very excited now, especially when we think about the new model program. For KTM’s factory in Mattighofen, Austria, it means 15,000 additional bikes based on the same platforms. It is like the car industry with Volkswagen, Seat, Audi and Skoda. In the marketplace the brands are separate, but behind the scenes there are synergies. That is the only way to survive on a small scale in a competitive industry.”
ON WHY KTM DOESN’T HAVE ITS OWN MOTOCROSS TEST TRACK “It would be nice! An offroad course for zero-emission bikes is already at the factory, but we have tried for the past 20 years to build a motocross test track. It is unbelievable how many arguments from neighbors have come up. It is a sad thing, because we are employ- ing almost 3000 people in the region. Many people are benefitting from KTM, but we are not able to do a test track. We even have 50 acres of land set aside for it. The E-bike track was immediate, but a normal track is much harder. For us, it means a bottleneck for our R&D department because it means extended travel to Italy or Spain.” ;
THE MAN WHO SAVED KTM
“FIRST OF ALL, YOU NEED TO PAY A LOT OF MONEY TO HAVE A NICE ITALIAN COMPANY AND BRAND. THEN, YOU NEED TO PAY A LOT OF MONEY TO GET RID OF THAT COMPANY.”
ON HUSKY VS. KTM “You have to have the brand content separate from KTM. KTM is perhaps a bit more ‘to the edge’ and more race-oriented. Husqvarna will come out as more historic, more Scandinavian and a little bit smoother. The design, as you will see in the future, will be a bit softer than the KTM’s. Husqvarna will focus on the Supermoto style of bike for on-road. There are a lot of niches that Husqvarna can occupy and become a serious player again.”
ON WHY KTM CAN SUCCEED WHERE BMW FAILED “First, we have 20 years experience in the offroad niche market. It is a very specific market, and you need experienced people— former racers and skilled technicians. Every small detail must be pursued with hard and consistent work to create the right product.
competition line for every engine displacement in motocross, meaning 250, 350 and 450 four-strokes and 125 and 250 two-strokes, plus all the models that Husaberg had for enduro. This will include a 690cc single-cylinder bike. It will be a perfect model line, so Husqvarna dealers can survive in the offroad segment. That gives us the chance to have a second distribution line against the Japanese. Husqvarna is strong enough on a global basis to be able to attack the Japanese or to lift the Europeans up against the Japanese; that is the concept.”