Honda & Hitachi Join Forces on Electric Vehicle Motors

News out Japan sees Honda and Hitachi starting a joint venture that will focus on providing motors for electric vehicles. The two companies signed today what they call a “memorandum of understanding, which is the Japanese business version of getting a promise ring to start a future company together. The still unnamed joint venture will be located in Hitachinaka City in the Ibaraki Prefecture, and be initially capitalized with ¥5 billion (~$44 million). Honda Motor Co. and Hitachi Automotive Systems hope to finalize this deal by March 2017, and the new company will have subsidiaries in China and the United States – both of which will have sales and production capabilities.

US Lawmaker Introduces Bill to Close the EPA by 2018

A bill has been presented to the United States House of Representatives that would seek the closure of the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) by 2018. Proposed by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R – Florida), HB 861 will likely be a mixed bag for motorcycle enthusiasts, as it will deregulate environmental restrictions set at the federal level, leaving states to draft or adopt their own provisions, which will likely have a fracturing effect on the regulatory market for motorcycles. But, it will also mean the abolition of EPA regulations that many motorcyclists oppose, like the blending of ethanol in our fuel, and restrictions on noise, emissions, and vehicle modifications.

KTM Invests in Heads-Up Display Company NUVIZ

Heads-up display (HUD) company NUVIZ just took a strategic investment from Pierer Industrie AG, the company behind KTM, Husqvarna, WP Suspension, and others. Today’s news is quite a catch for the San Diego based technology startup, and it bodes well for NUVIZ to bring its heads-up display technology to market. As such, NUVIZ hopes to have a heads-up display unit and connected rider system available in the first half of 2017. NUVIZ has raised roughly $9 million to date, via equity and debt, and our sources tell us that KTM’s purchase into the company has contributed to the lions’s share of that amount – upwards of $5 million, along with a seat on NUVIZ’s board of directors.

Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team Debuts

In an airplane hangar in Austria, Honda’s World Superbike team unveiled its wings…that is to say, the Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team debuted in the energy drink’s Hangar-7 facility in Salzburg today. As the name implies, Red Bull will be the title sponsor for Nicky Hayden’s and Stefan Bradl’s World Superbike title bid this year, on the updated 2017 Honda CBR1000RR SP2. This is the first time that Red Bull has been a title sponsor in the WorldSBK paddock, though the energy drink company’s livery can be seen on variety of bodywork throughout motorsport. “It’s a new year with a new bike, new title partner and new teammate, so there are definitely many changes ahead and a lot of things to look forward to,” said former MotoGP Champion Nicky Hayden.

PJ Jacobsen Gives His First Impressions of MV Agusta

PJ Jacobsen will once again be the sole American representation in World Supersport this year. The New Yorker had his first taste of his MV Agusta F3 in the dry while at the Jerez test, and came away suitably impressed by the bike that has won eight races in the hands of Jules Cluzel in recent years. The 23-year-old tested the bike in Jerez last year in what was seen as a shootout for the ride, but on a damp track he didn’t get a real feel for the bike. “Today was my first day on the bike this year,” said Jacobsen. “I did half a day on the MV last November in Jerez, but it was half wet, half dry so today was good to get out there. It was fully dry so I learned a lot and I’m quite happy with it. The bike is totally different to what I’ve ridden in the past, but the team works really well and they’ve impressed me.”

Check Out the 2017 Honda RC213V

The MotoGP launch season is still upon us, and now that we have seen the teams and bikes from Ducati, Suzuki, and Yamaha – it is time for Honda to take the wraps off the team its campaigning for its title defense. Debuting the 2017 Honda RC213V at a press event in Indonesia, not much has changed outwardly for the 240+ horsepower GP bike, though there a subtle differences to be seen, if you look closely and compare it to last year’s bike. The Repsol Honda fairings cover the biggest change that we know of, as reports from the test tracks confirm that Honda is experimenting with a “big-bang like” firing order on its V4 engine, a change from the “screamer” configuration of last season, which was handful for Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa to manage.

2016 Was A Very Good Year for Husqvarna

Last year proved to be a tough year for many brands, especially those with operations in the United States, but that wasn’t the case for Husqvarna. The rebooted Swedish brand is seeing good life while under its Austrian ownership. Making 2016 a very good year for Husqvarna, the brand is reporting a sales increase of a whopping 43% over 2015’s sales numbers. That is no small feat for Husqvarna, as 2015 was already a record year for the dirt-focuses brand, where it saw a 32% increase. Of course in many ways, up is the only direction Husqvarna can go, after its purchase by Pierer Industrie AG. Still, Husqvarna’s figure of 30,700 sold motorcycles in 2016 is a marked improvement from the near 10,000 units it was producing while part of BMW Motorrad.

2017 Suzuki GSX-RR Debuts in Malaysia

Debuting this weekend in Malaysia, the ECSTAR Suzuki MotoGP team has unveiled its team and livery for the 2017 season, which will see Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins riding the update Suzuki GSX-RR race bike. Suzuki has already shown that it has a bike capable of hunting for podiums; and on its best days, it can be a race-winner as well. For the 2017 season though, the Japanese brand hopes to build upon its success in 2016. As such, the ECSTAR Suzuki team has high hopes with the arrival Andrea Iannone, hoping that “Maniac Joe” can add some more wins to Suzuki’s tally. Looking long-term too, the addition of Alex Rins could be strong investment by Team Manager Davide Brivio, with Rins being one of Moto2’s top talents.

OEMs Are Trying to Block “Right to Repair” Laws

Asphalt & Rubber readers should be familiar with how attempts have been made to use the Digital Millennium Right Act (DMCA) as means of limiting how you can work on your vehicles, including your motorcycle. These attempts first started in 2015, and were pushed heavily by John Deere and the automobile lobby. Thankfully, last year the the Librarian of Congress allowed exemptions for vehicles to be applied to the DMCA, which will be in effect for the next two years. Now, the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) – a group that represents the interests of motorcycle manufacturers in the United States – is putting pressure on state legislatures and encouraging them to block “Right to Repair” bills that would codify the exemptions made to the DMCA.

EBR Motorcycles Shutting Down, Yet Again

EBR Motorcycles is closing its doors…again. Yes, you heard that right. America’s superbike brand will be winding down its production operations, starting next week, and is looking for a strategic investor to takeover the brand. Liquid Asset Partners (LAP) attributes its decision to shutdown EBR Motorcycles to the company’s difficulty to secure new dealerships, and thus increase sales. As a result, LAP says that its production volume for 2016 and 2017 was below expectations. The company then finishes its explanation for closing EBR Motorcycles with the following line: “the combination of slow sales and industry announcements of other major OEM brands closing or cutting production only magnified the challenges faced by EBR.”

Lin Jarvis: Sponsorship, Vision, & Races Outside of Europe

03/22/2013 @ 5:56 pm, by David Emmett4 COMMENTS

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At the presentation of Yamaha’s 2013 MotoGP campaign, where the bike which Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi will ride in the coming season was unveiled, it was clear that there was one thing missing from the bike: this season, as for the last two years, Yamaha’s MotoGP team will not have a title sponsor, but will campaign in corporate colors once again.

Though the news hardly came as a surprise – the colors being used throughout the winter testing period suggested that Yamaha would be racing without a title sponsor – we were interested to find out whether the current situation is sustainable.

To that end, we cornered Yamaha Racing’s Managing Director Lin Jarvis, and put a few questions to him. Firstly, we asked, could Yamaha’s MotoGP team manage without a title sponsor, or was the expanded support from non-title sponsors sufficient? The answer to those questions was “yes and yes” Jarvis quipped.

Moto2: Gino Rea Launches Self-Sponsored Wildcard Effort

03/11/2013 @ 9:41 am, by David Emmett2 COMMENTS

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Despite losing his Moto2 ride after the withdrawal of a major sponsor from the ESGP team, Gino Rea is to contest selected Moto2 rounds in 2013. The young Englishman has received the go-ahead from Dorna and IRTA to enter as a wildcard at as many races as he can raise funds for in the 2013 season.

With material support from FTR, Rea will be testing and racing the 2013 version of the FTR Moto2 chassis. The team, run by Gino Rea and his father David, currently intend to race at 11 rounds of the Moto2 championship – basically, all of the European rounds. The exact number of races they will appear at will depend on the amount of money they can raise.

That is the big question for Rea. The young Londoner still needs to raise some £20,000 to contest each round. Rea has received strong support from his fan base, raising money from individual donations through the Gino Rea Club website. That effort continues, while Rea is also searching for more traditional sponsors. After the jump is a press release issued by Gino Rea, complete with contact details for potential sponsors.

January 2013: The MotoGP & WSBK Story, So Far

02/02/2013 @ 3:06 pm, by David Emmett7 COMMENTS

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With the first full test for the World Superbike class behind us, and the first test of the MotoGP grid about to get underway at Sepang at the end of this week, it is time to take a look at motorcycle racing’s pre-season, and evaluate where we stand so far. Just what is the state of play for both MotoGP and World Superbike in 2013?

The question is even more pertinent now that both series have been taken under the wing of Dorna, much to the consternation of World Superbike fans and, to some extent, the WSBK paddock as well. It was feared that Dorna would either kill off World Superbike entirely to strengthen the position of MotoGP, or impose such stringent technical regulations on the series as to dumb it down to Superstock spec.

Fortunately, neither of those options looks likely. World Superbikes will continue as a separate series, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta was keen to explain when quizzed about the takeover at Ducati’s Wrooom launch event early in January. The aim is to build a strong WSBK series to stand alongside MotoGP, preserving the unique identity of the two series – WSBK as a place to race production bikes, MotoGP as the series for racing prototypes.

But exactly how should the phrase “production bikes” be interpreted? As a hotted up version of the road-going model, as is the intention of Superstock, or as a genuine racing machine built using the production bike as a basis, which is much closer to what some regard as the ethos of WSBK? The answer, it appears, will lie somewhere in the middle, and the factories will have a major say in how this all turns out.

Seeking Alpha – On Ignite’s MotoGP Sponsorship

01/30/2013 @ 5:10 pm, by Jensen Beeler5 COMMENTS

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Ignite Asset Management is a new name in the MotoGP paddock’s lexicon, as well as the new sponsor of Ducati’s “junior” team. While each year sponsors come and go, Ignite is a bit different from the usual batch of names plastered on the side of a GP bike, and the investment firm is getting some interesting play in the otherwise unassuming motorcycle world.

If you are not sure what an “alternative asset management” investing firm happens to be, then the American company’s self-description as a “management firm led by a group of hedge fund industry veterans and supported by private investors that are driven by the undiscovered alpha” is going to really leave you really wondering what slicks-back the hair on these Wall Street types.

Boiled down to its essence, an alpha represents the ratio of an investments and measure how sizable a return was in relation to measured risk. A positive alpha coefficient signals that an investment was good not only in its return, but also in its risk management. Investors are always talking about “seeking alpha” and here Ignite is touting its professional ability of finding the diamond in the rough — standard Wall Street Napoleon Complex stuff.

So then, how does a company like Ignite Asset Management enter into a sport where the running joke about how to make $10 million dollars is to start with $100 million?

Official: Monster to Sponsor Yamaha Factory MotoGP Team

01/08/2013 @ 11:00 am, by David Emmett8 COMMENTS

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Monster Energy has agreed to a two-year partnership deal with Yamaha Factory Racing, which will see the Monster brand act as sponsor to Yamaha’s MotoGP team. The announcement had been widely anticipated, and reported on here prior to Christmas, and extends Monster’s participation in MotoGP, where they go head-to-head with the other energy drink giant, Red Bull.

Though the deal between Yamaha and Monster will provide a useful influx of cash for the Japanese factory team (Spanish website Motocuatro.com put the total sponsorship deal at 4 million euros) Monster will not become title sponsor. Instead, the Monster logos will receive the same kind of prominence as Japanese oil sponsor ENEOS, appearing on the fairings of both bikes, as well as on the leathers of both Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi.

Monster To Sponsor Yamaha’s Factory MotoGP Team?

12/21/2012 @ 3:04 pm, by David Emmett15 COMMENTS

It is looking increasingly likely that energy drink company Monster is to take on a role as co-sponsor of Yamaha’s MotoGP team. Spanish website Motocuatro is reporting that Yamaha has bought Jorge Lorenzo out of his personal sponsorship by rival energy drink maker Rockstar and that both Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi are to carry Monster sponsorship on their leathers and on the fairings of their Yamaha M1s for 2013 and 2014.

According to Motocuatro, the story started earlier this year, after Lorenzo renewed his contract with Rockstar, and Valentino Rossi announced he would be signing with Yamaha. Both Rockstar and Monster had been in talks with Yamaha to step up their sponsorship of their riders – both men have personal contracts with their respective energy drink brands – to increase exposure for the brand.

At first, Motocuatro reports, Monster showed an interest in moving up as co-sponsor on Rossi’s bike, gaining the same level of sticker coverage as ENEOS, the Japanese oil brand which also adorns the Yamaha’s fairings.

In response, Rockstar started negotiations with Yamaha to match Monster’s offer, meaning that both Lorenzo and Rossi would have equal levels of energy drink sponsorship on their bikes. Lorenzo would have Rockstar stickers, while Rossi would have Monster badges.

Official: JX Nippon Oil Sponsors Yamaha in MotoGP

01/30/2012 @ 1:23 pm, by Jensen Beeler1 COMMENT

When Yamaha’s MotoGP team lost its sponsorship from Petronas, it seemed like the buzzards had begun circling around the Japanese company’s racing efforts. Thankfully for GP racing fans, our friends at MotoMatters got word that Petronas’ departure was making way for a new sponsor, JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corporation.

Now formally announcing that JX Nippon Oil will sponsor Yamaha Racing’s factory MotoGP squad, our pre-season attention can now shift to see if Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies will have some new livery on display when Yamaha makes its formal 2012 team unveiling…oh, and how fast the 2012 Yamaha YZR-M1 will be against the factory Ducati Desmosedici GP12 and Honda RC213V. Something mildly related to all this is after the jump.

Ant West Retires From MotoGP Because of No Sponsorship

01/27/2012 @ 10:39 am, by Victoria Reid8 COMMENTS

MotoGP rider Anthony West announced today his withdrawal from racing for the 2012 season, and likely his retirement from racing altogether. The Australian rider has had an up and down career, with two seasons in the premier class, along with the occasional forays and the 2009 season in World Supersport racing.

His best season, the 2003 250cc championship, saw West place seventh overall, scoring a single win and four total podium finishes during his run. Ant West spent the past two seasons riding in the Moto2 Championship for MZ-RE Honda, and was about to return to the premier class with the Speed Master team on a Aprilia CRT bike, but now says he won’t be able to compete because of a lack of personal sponsorship..

Nippon Oil to Sponsor Yamaha’s MotoGP Team

01/04/2012 @ 3:57 pm, by Jensen Beeler12 COMMENTS

Last week we got news that Yamaha Racing and Petronas were concluding their three-year collaboration in MotoGP, as the Malaysian oil company’s contract with Yamaha came to an end, and was not to be renewed. Following Yamaha’s abysmal ability to keep or gain sponsorships for its racing efforts lately, the initial reaction to the news of Petronas’ departure was very grave in the MotoGP paddock. However, our friends at MotoMatters have confirmed that Yamaha will be replacing Petronas (not the Harry Potter spell, thanks irks) with Nippon Oil subsidiary brand ENEOS.

MotoGP: Yamaha Loses Petronas Sponsorship

12/30/2011 @ 10:47 am, by Jensen Beeler14 COMMENTS

Calling it the “natural conclusion” of their partnership, Yamaha’s MotoGP team and Malaysian oil giant Petronas have split ways after three years of racing sponsorship. Concluding a deal that is reportedly worth $8 million a year to the factory MotoGP team, Yamaha’s loss of Petronas will surely be felt in the team’s pocketbook, assuming of course that the Japanese manufacturer cannot replace the company with another on its sponsor roster.

After losing title sponsor Fiat for the 2011 season (due almost entirely to Yamaha’s inability to retain Valentino Rossi), Petronas and Yamaha Motor Kenkana Indonesia (Yamaha’s Indonesian arm) were left as the team’s main backers and official sponsors. Now with the loss of Petronas, many of the names on the side of the Yamaha YZR-M1 are those belonging to the tuning fork brand, leaving the financial burden for Yamaha’s MotoGP racing effort to come squarely out of one Yamaha coffer or another.

Surely to be taken as a sign of the decreased value of racing in MotoGP to race sponsors, this news has to be especially troubling for Yamaha, as it continues to lose its biggest sponsorship accounts, one after another. While it would appear that the Japanese manufacturer will have to foot another $8 million a year out its internal budget, the only silver lining to the situation could be the hope that the loss of Petronas is making way for a more lucrative sponsor. We wouldn’t hold our breath on that one though.