When KTM boss Stefan Pierer bought Husqvarna, the big question was – what next? Now we know part of the answer to that question.
KTM sells street bikes, but they’re best known for their off-road models – and they already own one sub-brand, Husaberg. Onlookers were left scratching their heads when Pierer bought Husqvarna from BMW, and wondered what his plans for the company were. Would they continue building street-legal bikes based on hopped-up BMW motors, which was the direction they were headed in?
This week, word has filtered out to various news sources that Pierer’s company is closing the Italian Husqvarna factory down later this summer; they’re going to keep a few white-collar head office employees, but they’re letting a couple hundred blue-collar people go.
Now we’re left wondering where the marque will be building bikes. The answer is probably India. Indian manufacturer Bajaj already owns a huge chunk of KTM, and that country is one of the world’s hottest motorcycle markets. The two companies know they can make a ton of money if they have the right bike at the right price over there – they’re already selling a pile of 200 Duke machines over there.
Other manufacturers (even Harley-Davidson and BMW) are doing their best to make inroads to that market – the MoCo is even said to be building a just-for-India model. Maybe Husqvarna will one-up everyone else by moving all their production over there as well, giving Indians, as well as the rest of the world, access to affordable motorcycles with European engineering?
The real story is that Husqvarna was totally mismanaged by BMW and then dumped when BMW board member’s became aware of the catastrophe. Since BMW purchased Husqvarna the total loss has been in excess of 180 million Euros! Even worse, the warehouse is full of approximately 12,000 units that are unsellable due to multiple technical issues related to engine and electrical problems. Apparently, BMW-Husqvarna management had covered up the problems and losses from the BMW board until auditors found the issues late last year. Nor did BMW disclose the issues to KTM during the purchase negotiations. Expect additional legal developments that will certainly cost BMW even more money in the future.