Great business is best done by those who have one Big Idea. They sell the hell out of it, and then build on that to diversify upwards. Look at Volkswagen, McDonalds, Dunlop, Coca-Cola, Honda, etc.

Last year, KTM overtook BMW to become Europe’s largest motorcycle manufacturer by selling 107,142 units - more than 32 percent up on the year before, and a big increase on its previous best-ever annual sales back in 2007. Back then KTM was predominantly an off-road specialist, and it sold 92,385 bikes. Its 2012 record volume came on the back of its Big Idea in street motorcycles – the Duke.

Some 22,000 examples of the KTM Duke sold last year were built in the Bajaj - split between the 125cc version as an entry-level model for mature markets, and the 200cc for developing markets.

“In Asia and South America, the 200cc displacement is very popular, because there you are not restricted on your driving license to a 125cc capacity according to age, as in Europe,” says KTM’s President/CEO Stefan Pierer. “So the relationship between Bajaj and KTM is a perfect fit - Bajaj is getting technology for its own products, and for KTM we’re getting our entry level and beginner’s bikes for mature markets sold into global emerging markets as prestige products, which is the best of both worlds. Under our mid-term plan for the next five years, by 2017 we plan to produce 100,000 KTM motorcycles annually at our Austrian factory, and 100,000 at the Bajaj plant - so basically 200,000 units in total, that’s the five year target.”

The latest new product of this joint venture is a key step towards achieving this goal, for the KTM 390 Duke is a true world bike - the first model in the Indian-made Duke family that will be sold globally, reaching Asian and Latin American customers later this year, and those in the U.S. and Canada beginning in October.

As such, its arrival adds a further payoff for the shrewd gamble made by Pierer and his counterpart Rajiv Bajaj in developing a range of cool, affordable, single-cylinder streetbikes that are helping to attract the next generation of riders to choose motorcycling over other forms of leisure pursuit.

 

Alan Cathcart | European Editor

Cathcart has ridden practically every road racer and streetbike ever built and written about them in Cycle News. They don’t call him Sir Alan for nothing.

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