Because of the changes in the economy, Austrian based KTM has had to readjust their sales forecasts for the X-Bow track car/go-kart on steroids, resulting in KTM halting current production of the X-Bow until 2010.
In an effort to reduce production costs, Kawasaki is about to become the first Japanese motorcycle manufacturer to have its motorcycles built in a developing country. Starting in 2010, Kawasaki will transfer the production of its medium and large-sized motorcycles from Japan to Thailand.
According to financial experts at Bloomberg, Kawasaki’s motives are based on reducing costs by taking advantage of the cheap labor found in Thailand. Rumor has it that Honda is also considering moving its production to Thailand, presumably for similar reasons.
With the MotoGP paddock still up in the air as to where riders will land for the 2010, some riders are in better positions than others. Nicky Hayden finds himself in the unique position of deciding whether or not he will stay with a factory ride, or move elsewhere. Hayden currently has a one-year contract with Ducati, which has an option to renew the contract for another with the American rider.
While not exactly “street bike” news, we thought the A&R readership would find this latest press release from KTM interesting nonetheless.
KTM owners of current SX, XC, XC-W, and EXC model dirt bikes can now have their motorcycles tuned by KTM factory technicians to the exact same specifications as the KTM factory supported race bikes.
While Ducati is recording all-time high sales figures, times are significantly tighter at Benelli, that other Italian motorcycle manufacturer. With many of its workers on part-time status (and with the Government paying part of their paycheck), production at the Benelli factory has been scaled back to around 1,000 motorcycles for 2009, down from the 20,000 the company had anticipated to make when it set it goals back in 2007.
This year, Chinese owner, Qiang Jiang, is taking a closer look at the Italian acquistion, with the possibility of folding the company not ruled out. This just a few months after Qiang Jiang pumped $26 million into the Italian brand.
Kawasaki, not be left out of the metric manufacturer meltdown, is offering a buyout package to 320 workers at its plant in Lincoln, Nebraska, which produces ATVs and personal water craft for Team Green. While, the buyout applies to only about 16% of the plants total 2,000 or so workers, if further costs reductions are not met then deeper cuts will likely be made.
According to Kawasaki, “rapidly declining sales” of recreational and utility products prompted the buyout, and if not enough of the employees excericse the option to have their contracts bought, then Kawasaki will “be forced to terminate some employees.” Workers at the Nebraska plant already have been working short weeks and will continue to do so for the next several months. No further comment from Kawasaki is expected until Friday, May 22.
Source: PowerSports Business
It looks like Ducati will be moving out of their current headquarters at Borgo Panigale (just outside the old city walls of Bologna), and into a new facility down the road at Perscietana. The new facility will boast nearly 1.8 million square feet, with space included for events and exhibits for customers and visitors, along with a new restaurant and test track.
Husqvarna (which BMW bought in 2007) will be moving to its new headquarters in Italy by the end of May this year. The move is part of BMW’s plan to have all the Husqvarna business units in one facility. This means that all the engine, testing, development, styling, and racing divisions of Husqvarna will exist under one roof at the Cassinetta di Biandronno facility, in the Varese district of Italy.
Part of BMW’s motivation behind the move is to reduce costs and to sort out Husqvarna’s problems with quality control and supplies of spare parts. While Husqvarna only sold 12,000 bikes in 2007, BMW hopes to increase sales by over three times the current levels over the next 2 to 3 years. In fact, the new manufacturing facility will have the capacity to produce up to 40,000 Husqvarna motorcycles every year.
BMW intends to keep Husqvarna as an off-road specialist brand and use R&D inputs from the company to improve/develop its own dual-purpose and off-road machines.
Source: Faster & Faster
Yamaha Motors is announcing that it will be closing down 11 facilities, thus halting production, for two-weeks in order to cut on costs. The shutdown is expected to occur sometime in February or March, and will include lines for Yamaha’s motorcycles, recreational vehicles, atvs, watercraft, and spare parts.
In similar news, Honda has announced that it will be cutting production worldwide and across the board: cars, bikes, generators, you name it.
Last week we speculated whether or not Honda would pull out of MotoGP after it announced that it was ending its Formula1 campaign, Honda has now announced that it will be withdrawing from all of the AMA’s road racing series.
This news really only affects Neil Hodgson, who is currently the only factory signed onto the 2009 season. HRC’s move will not affect Jake Zemke, who won last year’s AMA Formula Xtreme Championship, because all signs point to him riding for the Erion Honda team, which Honda will still be offering support to, as well as the Corona Honda team.
Honda again cites the current economic situation as the reason behind their announcement. We’ll let you discuss if you think factors like Suzuki’s dominance in AMA Superbike, or the new ownership by the Daytona Motorsports Group could be aggravating circumstances.