American dirt bike maker ATK announced on February 8th that it had hired former Harley-Davidson sales manager Jon Syverson as the firm’s new executive VP.
And this news because? Because this is in line with ATK’s imminent entry into the production of street bikes, a move initiated in May of last year when it forged an alliance with Korea’s S&T Motors (better known in North America as Hyosung).
Currently, ATK features a line-up of street bikes in the U.S., which are actually rebadged Hyosung models, but the $100 million deal will see S&T Motors supply parts to produce more than 33,000 motorcycles — ranging from 250 to 680 cc — over the next four years under the ATK brand name.
Beginning in 2012, the machines will be assembled in ATK’s Centerville, Utah plant, allowing the company to take advantage of certain tax breaks, as well as expanding its workforce by adding about 65 new jobs.
The main plan behind this alliance is to get these American branded machines into current Harley-Davidson dealerships as an inexpensive entry-level alternative.
“Our strategy is for ATK to be the second American brand in select Harley-Davidson dealerships,” said ATK president Frank White in a press release, “The prime focus of our initiative is to be a feeder brand to the V-twin dealers — similar to what Scion has been to Toyota.”
According to National Motorsports VP Kent Aubichon, the Canadian Hyosung distributor has plans to bring ATK branded motorcycles into this country, though it won’t happen until sometime in 2012. Aubichon also mentioned that ATK’s off-road line would likely follow the street bikes into Canada, but probably not before 2013.
Canadian importer Deeley Harley-Davidson does not endorse the plan to use Harley dealers as ATK sales outlets, but indications are that it is not vehemently opposed to it either.
“While we generally do recommend exclusivity to our Canadian retailers, we do understand the need to expand into the distribution of other lines in certain geographic areas which require a multi-line model to ensure the successful running of a business,” replied Deeley Harley-Davidson’s PR specialist Alex Carroni when questioned about Deeley’s take on the matter.
There’s no doubt that the hiring of Syverson was a strategic move, both for his industry experience and for his intimate knowledge of Harley’s modus operandi and dealer network.