It was just six months ago that we broke the news about Harley-Davidson investing in electric motorcycle maker Alta Motors, and now in that short timeframe that story has seemingly made a 180° turn.
Our sources tell us that Harley-Davidson has all but removed itself from its joint motorcycle project with Alta, and backed out of its involvement in the San Francisco startup.
For Alta, this means losing the backing of a strategic investor, as well as the resources that Harley-Davidson wields in the motorcycle industry when it comes to purchasing power and vehicle development.
For the Bar & Shield brand, this raises interesting questions about Harley-Davidson’s electric roadmap, which the company revealed just one month ago – not so subtly with a concept sketch that clearly showed the use of an Alta Motors battery pack.
Is Ducati thinking about making a 300cc sport bike? Is it going to do so in India? With Hero MotoCorp? That is the talk of the motorcycle industry today, though this isn’t the first time that this idea has been floated in the two-wheeled rumor mill. The reason this rumor keeps coming around is that Ducati seems to be one of the last motorcycle brands really to adopt the small-displacement motorcycle strategy. Motorcycle manufacturers are continuously investing in motorcycle models that would sell well with entry-level riders or in developing nations. This has lead to a boom in motorcycles that that are under 400cc – most of which are produced in Asia, though also sold in the western markets.
It has been a motorcycle that we have long waited for, but it seems that the KTM 390 Adventure is finally set to debut. Based on the KTM 390 Duke platform, which currently shares itself with the KTM RC390, the new ADV bike targets the small-displacement adventure-touring segment. This means that at the core of the KTM 390 Adventure model should be a 373cc single-cylinder engine, making roughly 43hp. Multiple spy photos of the bike have been spotted over the years, which show a long-travel machine that should be fairly capable off-road. “With the 390 Adventure we would be making our long awaited entry into the niche premium dual-sport segment which is a very apt segment for Indian roads,” said Bajaj SVP and KTM India boss Amit Nandi, in a statement reported by several Indian publications.
Regular Asphalt & Rubber readers should recognize the name TVS as the brand behind BMW’s small-displacement lineup of motorcycles, with the Indian firm also releasing its 300cc-class sport bike, the TVS Apache RR 310.
Here is another reasons to take notice of the TVS Motor Company though, as it just debuted a hybrid gas-electric cruiser concept, which not only is interesting from a technical perspective, but it looks pretty good too.
For the Western world, the TVS Zeppelin isn’t going to blow the doors off the market, at least not with the quoted specs, but TVS does have some clever ideas for the model.
As expected, the TVS Apache RR 310 debuted today in India, thus ending the bike’s nearly year-long delay in coming to market. Why do we care so much about a motorcycle that will likely never set foot on US soil? Because at the heart of the TVS Apache RR 310 is BMW Motorrad’s next small-displacement motorcycle: the BMW G310RR…well that, and the TVS Apache RR 310 looks pretty tasty as a track bike. Partnering with TVS Motor, BMW Motorrad is co-developing its 313cc line of single-cylinder motorcycles with the Indian firm, with the TVS Apache RR 310 set to become the BMW G310RR in the German brand’s lineup. As such, the BMW G310RR is expected to debut later in 2018, and join the G310R and G310GS as BMW’s multi-prong approach towards newer riders.
We have been patiently waiting for the TVS Apache RR 310S (formerly known as the TVS Akula 310) to debut in India, though probably not for the most obvious of reasons. Now, with only a matter of hours before it officially debuts, we have some thoughts on the newest sport bike from India.
While we are intrigued by the new motorcycles that debut in India, the TVS Apache RR 310S is a bit more special for Western riders.
Built in collaboration with BMW Motorrad, the TVS Apache RR 310S gives us our first glimpse into what the German brand’s 300cc-class sport bike will look like, which should hopefully debut late-2018.
Based around the same 313cc engine (34hp) that is found on the BMW G310R and BMW G310GS, that TVS Apache RR 310S is expected to be a BMW G310RR wrapped in different bodywork.
I’m not sure that the news of Triumph partnering with Bajaj quite made the impact on the motorcycle industry that it deserves.
Maybe it is because we have seen Triumph misstep with smaller displacement machines in the past (with an Indian partner, no less), or perhaps it is because the press release penned by Triumph CEO Nick Bloor was utterly incomprehensible, and devoid of any concrete facts.
Either way, the news is worth spilling some more pixels over, because there is a bit at stake in the coming years for the motorcycle OEMs, and Triumph just made a bid for sizable land grab for it.
Did you just feel that? That movement was a tectonic shift in the motorcycle landscape, as India just surpassed China as the world’s largest market for two-wheel vehicles. Just how big is the Indian motorcycle market? Last year, over 17.7 million motorcycles were sold in India. That is over 48,000 motorcycles sold…each day. Compared to China, that is a margin of roughly one million motorcycles per year (16.8 million units sold last year). India has seen a sharp rise in the sales of two-wheelers within its borders over the seven years, growing over 32% during that timeframe. Transportation in general has been growing in India, but that growth has been fueled by the country’s two-wheeler market.
I woke up this morning to a message from a colleague, with a link to a story that linked Royal Enfield to buying Ducati Motor Holding. The story was from a fairly reliable news publication, but the headline read “Royal Enfield Might Consider Buying Ducati Pretty Soon” – the grammarist in me cringed.* “Might consider” is the most nebulous phrase in the English language. Let’s think about that phrase for a moment, as it literally means that you are considering the possibility of considering something. Don’t get me started on the timeliness of “Pretty Soon” in the news realm, as well. Metaphysics and meaningless headlines aside, for our purposes this narrative devolves further in that this story offers nothing new, beyond the story that Reuters published two weeks ago, which set off alarms in the motorcycle industry around the world.
If you think emission regulations in the United States or Europe are onerous, then you should see the hash of things that is being played out in India right now, as hundreds of thousands of vehicles have been sitting on showroom floors, flirting with disaster at the possibility of being declared unsellable in the country.
The exact figure varies from which source you believe (and their understanding that “lakh” means 100,000 in Indian parlance), so the affected number of vehicles ranges from 700,000 to 1.4 million units – most of which are trucks and two-wheelers.
As such, just days before the deadline 600,000 motorcycles soon-to-be non-compliant motorcycles were believed to be still unsold, the result of an interesting intersection of a rapidly changing environmental landscape, an unforgiving legal system, and a slowly reacting vehicle industry.
An Asphalt & Rubber reader sent me link recently, outlining how President Trump’s pullout from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would adversely affect international sales for Harley-Davidson.
At first I was just going to post a quick synopsis and send you all to read it for yourselves, if you wanted to dive deeper into the meat of the story. But then, I did some digging of my own.
The story, done by Forbes, doesn’t connect the dots too well. And while I agree with the author’s ultimate point, the reasoning he uses to get there is fairly flawed.
His argument boils down to the fact that the TPP would lower import costs for brands doing business in Asia, and since Harley-Davidson sells 40% of its bikes in the Asian market, it would therefore benefit from the USA becoming a TPP signatory.
The issue of course isn’t as cut-and-dry, and requires a bit of digging into what markets would become more favorable for Harley-Davidson, and where the future of the Bar & Shield brand resides. Buckle-up, because here we go.