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"Fast Bikes", April 1, 2013

End of the road for Husqvarna?


Will Husqvarna’s future be all uphill from this point?

After buying Husqvarna at the top of the market, BMW has ditched the brand after only four years and considerable investment in the business. Although the German firm recorded record sales in 2012, the firm wants to maintain sustainable growth in its core markets – Tarmac based machines. Husqvarna sold 10,751 machines last year, up 16 per cent on 2011, but still BMW has decided to consolidate and shave costs rather than compete for a bigger share of a smaller pie in the off road world.

The buyer of the business is interesting in many respects. It is Pierer Industrie (AG), effectively Stefan Pierer, the boss of KTM – and also the owner of Husaberg. It is easy to imagine that there could be a conflict of interest here, so it remains to be seen how the KTM board react to this. We’ll be watching with interest...

With regard to KTM, clearly there’s a lot of overlap in the business here, and Pierer has already indicated that he wants to ditch Husqvarna’s road based machinery (the BMW powered Nuda and TR machines) in favour of concentrating on the firm’s traditional business – off-road two strokes. Pierer has said that he wants sales figures to double in ten years, and intends to achieve this by revamping the firm’s off road range, the core Husqvarna market.

The premature end of the likes of the Nuda is a disappointment. At the launch of the Nuda the now Italian firm was so enthusiastic about its future, and put great stock in its then owners, BMW, providing it with the knowledge and financing to create a genuinely engaging product with bags of character.

Thanks to BMW’s investment in R&D, Husqvarna will be in rude health, and Pierer has a company who’s potential is great – that its future won’t be on road to any great extent is a crying shame, but a reflection of today’s turbulent market conditions.

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