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Old 09-01-2015, 05:13 AM   #1
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10 Questions With: KTM President & CEO Stefan Pierer


KTM on-road sales eclipsed off-road sales for the first time in 2014, thanks to the popularity of new models like the RC390.


KTM President and CEO, Stefan Pierer

KTM produced more than 120,000 motorcycles (including Husqvarna products) at its Mattighofen, Austria facility in 2013, creating the highest revenue in company history 716.4 million euros) and making KTM the largest European motorcycle manufacturer, ahead of even BMW. With the firm so clearly hitting its stride, what better time to talk business with Stefan Pierer, the man in charge of both KTM and Husky operations?

Motorcyclist: What was the balance of KTM streetbikes built in 2014, compared to off-road models?
Stefan Pierer: This was the first year that on-road is bigger than off-road. Although we also had an increase in off-road sales, on-road is growing much faster than anything else.

MC: It also seems like you successfully turned Husqvarna around post-BMW.
SP: Husqvarna sales in 2014 were the all-time highest in 110 years, at 15,000 units, which I admit was beyond my expectations. I believed the brand had a huge potential, especially in the US.

MC: What’s the projection for Husqvarna’s sales volume in the future?
SP: Husqvarna has to become number three in Europe. It’s very simple: Number one is clearly KTM; number two is my favorite competitor, BMW; and number three must be Husqvarna. So it’s a clear message that with Husqvarna we have to overtake first Ducati then Triumph.

**MC: Where do electric bikes fit into this growth? **
SP: We’ve had a very good demand [for the Freeride E] from a specific group of customers who want to have something silent they can ride in their garden or neighborhood. I like this approach through sport and racing because otherwise you are just providing mobility with electric power, and this is not sexy—yet. But I’m convinced that in 10 years’ time a major part of urban mobility will be based on electric vehicles.


KTM will build 2,000 units of the Freeride E electric off-roader in 2015; the goal is to build 10,000 e-bikes annually by 2020.

MC: What sales volume is KTM looking to achieve with electric bikes?
SP: We are starting with a 2,000-unit production volume in 2015 for the three versions of the Freeride E. With the streetbike coming two years from now, let’s say by 2020 we want to achieve 10,000 units a year together with the off-road E-models. Building up to 10,000 units a year by 2020 is our goal.

MC: How about the rumored MotoGP machine? Will it be a 75-degree V-4?
SP: No, it’s in fact slightly less than 90 degrees so as to have more flexibility on the front end on the different tracks—that’s what we have learned by studying closely what the others are doing. You will see a tubular frame, just as in Moto 3, where we showed the whole world that the tubular frame is much better than anything in aluminum—contrary to what Ducati seems to think, they have the total opposite opinion.

MC: What’s the timeline for the MotoGP project?
SP: By May or June this year the engine will run on the dyno, and we expect to make our first tests sometime in the autumn. We plan to go racing in 2017 for the whole season, but maybe at the end of 2016 we can do a couple of races as wild cards to get some race practice.


Under KTM’s careful guidance, Husqvarna just enjoyed its most successful year ever, selling more than 15,000 total units.

MC: No mention of off-road racing yet. Does this suggest KTM will make any changes in that direction?
SP: No, no, no! Maybe from the outside it looks like everything is heading towards on-road due to the huge success we’re having with our sales, but in off-road we are still the market leader and still the benchmark. In the upcoming 2016 model season you will see a totally new Motocross range which is state-of-the-art with new engines, new chassis, new everything.

MC: It sounds like KTM is in very good shape. What are your future plans for the company?
SP: We have a very ambitious strategic plan for 2020, by which time we want Husqvarna to be the number three European manufacturer and for us to become the global number three among the sports motorcycle manufacturers. That means we have two Japanese to completely overtake—we already passed Suzuki in all developed markets. Kawasaki is still in front of us, but we are coming closer.

MC: What will it take to achieve this?
SP: We will build 250,000 units in the various different sectors, with both brands—Husqvarna and KTM.

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