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KTM prepares for sportbikes, ATV – September 25, 2006

September 25, 2006
Filed under Features

PORTLAND, Ore. – KTM dealers from the United States and Canada learned the company plans to bring the 990 Super Duke to North America in 2007, enter the ATV market later in the year and introduce an 1150cc supersport bike in 2009. KTM leadership from the U.S. and Austria shared the news during the brand’s annual North American business meeting, held here Aug. 30-Sept. 1.
KTM sold approximately 85,000 units and had revenue of about Euro 500 million ($635 million) for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, up from sales of 80,356 units and revenue of $565 million in the previous fiscal year. The U.S. accounts for 25 percent of KTM’s worldwide sales. The company moved about 21,300 units in North America during the past year, up from sales of approximately 21,000 units during the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2005.
“Due to the fact that we’re selling more of the bigger bikes, worldwide and here in North America, revenue has increased much more than unit sales,” KTM North America President Jon-Erick Burleson told Powersports Business.
Burleson said the company worked on dealer relations in 2006 by increasing dealer training opportunities, implementing a KTM Dealer Advisory Council, launching a new dealer demo program, enhancing focus on advertising, and reacting to dealer demand in an effort to better match production to dealer sales expectations.
He said those efforts resulted in a number of positives for the company, including:

  • growing off-highway full-size competition sales by 11 percent, compared to segment growth of 8 percent;
  • bringing noncurrent dealer inventory to an all-time low of 21 percent of total dealer stock compared to 33 percent in the prior year;
  • averaging per unit parts and accessories sales of $875;
  • and achieving record KTMCARD enrollment and retail financing volume.
    Burleson said KTM’s definition of a successful dealer is: A) a dealer who is profitable with the brand; B) a dealer with market penetration equal to or above the national average; C) a dealer who provides a top-level customer buying experience; and D) a dealer who is dedicated to the KTM brand.
    Dedication, he said, includes having a dedicated KTM area on the showfloor, a dedicated KTM salesperson or “orange bleeder,” a dedicated service area and technician, and full participation in KTM-related product programs.
    KTM North America’s strategy for 2007 includes: 1) steadily expanding its position in the off-highway competition segment; 2) further advancing into the sports-oriented street segment; 3) developing a stronger, more profitable dealer network capable of supporting KTM’s existing and expanding product line; and 4) developing related products that will improve KTM dealer financial strength as well as enforce the loyalty and quality perception of the KTM brand.
    2007 Product News
    KTM’s model line for 2007 includes 29 units in seven categories: Sportminicycles, Off-Road Competition SX, Off-Road competition EXC, Off-Road Competition XC, Adventure, Supermoto and Duke.
    Arguably the most prominent motorcycle information shared by the company was news that the 990 Super Duke would be retailed in North America in 2007.
    While many have likely read glowing reviews of the bike by consumer magazine editors tripping over to Europe, few in North America have had the chance to twist the throttle on the unit, which has been available across the Atlantic for the past two years.
    First shown stateside in 950cc form at KTM’s dealer meeting in 2003, the naked style 405-pound Super Duke is powered by a 999cc 75-degree V-twin engine producing 120hp at 9,000 rpm and 74 ft. lbs. at 7,000 rpm. For ’07, it gets a bigger fuel tank, new light mask, new front fender, radially bolted front brake caliper, and a new instrument panel with additional functions.
    In the future, look for the company’s on-road line-up to include an RC8-powered supersport, revealed in various guises since Intermot 2004. KTM says the 1150cc twin-cylinder is destined for market launch in North America in early 2009.
    As for KTM’s ATV project, the company said it plans to offer a 525cc sport ATV in 10 to 12 months as a late-release 2007 model.
    KTM’s strategy is to use its established credibility in off-road racing and engine-building to offer “ready-to-race” units, the first of which will be designed to run in GNC and GNCC competition.
    “This initial 525 unit will be positioned to run the cross country series, but we also plan to introduce a 450cc unit in 2008 that’ll be set-up for motocross competition,” Burleson said.
    “We’ll start with the 525 because of its obvious benefits, having weight the same as the 450,” he said. “It’s really competitive engine that we can put in an off-road chassis with the focus of being ready-to-race way that’s not really comparable to any other machines in the segment. After the 525, we’ll move into the 450.”
    Assembled retailers, most of which specialize in off-road product, applauded loudly after seeing a video of recent testing performed on the 525. KTM tapped U.S. racer Adam Clark to serve as a test rider.
    “I like the way the ATV handles and it turns nice,” Clark said. “It’s a lot different than other stock ATVs. It’s a lot more equipped.”
    The pre-production unit in the video featured KTM’s natural choice of a WP suspension as well as a right-side mounted exhaust, nerf bars, heel guards, shaved front fenders and handlebars without a crossbar. It also was without headlight.
    “What you saw on the video was not the latest design nor the latest plastics, but mechanically it was the latest,” said Harold Ploeckinger, managing director of R&D and production.
    “I think dealers appear to be really excited,” Burleson said. “It’s a completely new market for us, but I think our ready-to-race brand statement and how we position the product will be absolutely critical to the success of the ATV.”
    A price has not yet been set for the unit.
    “We’ve looked at some dollar figures, and what we can say is that the 525 will cost more than a stock 450 from some of our competitors, but still cost significantly less than if you went and modified those units,” Burleson said.
    “It may appear to be a premium price, but it will still be a bargain for the customer who would otherwise go out and have to add the components,” said Winfried Kerschhaggl, KTM international strategic marketing director. “Right now, you have to spend $5,000 to make your ATV race-ready. With our machine, you’ll be able to go out and compete box-stock.”
    “It’s also important to mention that this is largely a product designed for North America,” Burleson added. “Yes, we may have designed it with our R&D folks in Europe, but we’ve had many North American ATV experts involved to make it something for this market.”
    Did Polaris assist KTM with the production of the unit?
    “The ATV was one of the projects we discussed with Polaris,” Kerschhaggl said. “And yes, there was some product support and information supplied by Polaris. But, at the end of the day, we built this machine, and we built it to be race-ready out of the box.
    “We would have been stupid not to listen to them since they are so experienced in this business. They educated us on some basic principles, such as the supplier structure to obtain components for the ATV. But, on the other hand, we’re very experienced with high-performance engines, and we’re very efficient with production and logistics, so … .”
    As for the company’s bread-and-butter off-road motorcycle line-up, KTM launched an all-new XC line in 2006. For 2007, the company has a radically updated SX line, including a re-developed 450 SX-F and the new 144 SX and 505 SX-F.
    KTM’s remaining line-up for North America in 2007 includes the 50 Mini Adventure, 50 Senior Adventure, 50 SX, 50 SX Junior, 65 SX and 85 SX 17/14 Sportminicycles; the 105 SX, 125 SX, 250 SX, 250 SX-F and 450 SX-F Off-Road Competition SX models; the 400 EXC-G racing, 450 EXC-G Racing, 525 EXC-G Racing and 950 Super Enduro R Off-Road Competition EXC models; the 200 XC, 200 XC-W, 250 XC, 250 XC-W, 300 XC, 300 XC-W, 250 XCF-W, 450 XC-G Racing and 525 XC-G Racing Off-Road Competition XC models; and the 990 Adventure and 950 Supermoto bikes. psb

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