It surprising to us that there is so little investment in technologies and business in the two-wheeled space by the established players.
Maybe it is the conservative nature of the motorcycle industry, or maybe it is because motorcycle companies are just miserably bad at corporate development. Whatever the reason may be, it makes today’s headline an intriguing one.
This is because Yamaha Motor Corp. in Japan has just set aside $100 million to invest in technologies and business startups, over the next 10 years.
Interesting news today on the business front of the powersports industry, as Tenneco Inc. announced its intention to purchase Öhlins Racing A.B. for $160 million.
The move would see Tenneco own a majority stake in Öhlins, while a minority position in the company would remain with founder and namesake Kenth Öhlin.
The move is an interesting one since Tenneco has been in the suspension business before, owning the Marzocchi suspension brand.
One of the more interesting developments announced at the EICMA show in Milan, Italy was the debut of the Arc Vector electric superbike, which is being back by InMotion Ventures, the investment arm of Jaguar Land Rover. Yes, as in the car manufacturer.
The link to Jaguar Land Rover was an easy one, as Arc founder Mark Truman was formerly part of the company’s skunk works team, called White Space. Other funding partners include Mercia Fund Managers, the Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund which is part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund, and a number of industry specialist angels.
Arc has been teasing the Vector for the past several weeks, with plenty of buzzwords to go along with its electric motorcycle offering. The company plans a multi-pronged approach to get into the motorcycle industry, which includes creating a line of smart apparel (co-developed with Knox) that includes a helmet with a heads-up display (HUD).
Bad news from San Francisco today, as we learn that Alta Motors has ceased business operations, effective immediately, sending the company’s staff home as the electric motorcycle manufacturer looks for future funding.
Talking to an anonymous source, Asphalt & Rubber has been told that Alta Motors is in the midst of a strategic wind down, as it looks for an outside acquisition or investment.
We bring you big news this first day of March, as Harley-Davidson has announced its strategic investment in Alta Motors, which will see the two American companies co-developing two new electric motorcycle models.
As one can imagine, the news has big ramifications for both brands. For Harley-Davidson, it means having access to cutting-edge electric vehicle technology, and a technical partner that can help them navigate the coming shift to electric drivetrains.
And for Alta Motors the news is perhaps even more impactful, as Harley-Davidson brings not only a key monetary investment into the San Francisco startup, but the deal likely provides access to a variety of assets for Alta, namely purchasing power with parts supplier, access to a worldwide dealer network, and instant credibility with other future investors.
For the immediate future though, Harley-Davidson and Alta Motors foresee their collaboration including two new electric motorcycles, which will be branded under the Harley-Davidson name.
MV Agusta has finally closed a very important funding round, getting equity investment from ComSar Invest, which is backed by the Black Ocean Group, which in turn is owned by Russian billionaire Timur Sardarov.
The move sees MV Agusta able also to repurchase its stock from Mercedes AMG, which previously owned a 25% stake in the Italian motorcycle manufacturer.
The details of the ComSar deal however have not been disclosed, though we do know that the deal includes enough cash to finish MV Agusta’s recapitalization plan with its creditors and to begin its new, more focused, business plan for new models and motorcycle production.
Reuters continues to dish on Ducati’s possible divestiture from the Volkswagen Group, with news that several bids have been placed on the Italian motorcycle brand. Reuters says that amongst the bidders are several key brands like, Polaris, Bajaj, and Royal Enfield’s owners Eicher Motors.
Noticeably absent from the list of potential buyers however was the much talked-about Harley-Davidson, a name that the same Reuters reporters first offered as Ducati’s potential future owner.
Now Reuters offers us another name as the likely front-runner, pointing to Italy’s Benetton family (as in, the United Colors of Benetton), which has reportedly submitted a bid of $1.2 billion, through its investment arm Edizione Holding.
Alta Motors is announcing that it has closed two fundraising rounds, for a total of $27 million capital raised in exchanged for preferred stock in the San Francisco based electric motorcycle company.
The B & C series fundraising rounds were led by Grassy Creek Ventures, with the Series C round joined by Latin American venture capital fund Mountain Nazca, along with motorcycle legend Bob Fox – of Fox Racing fame.
Alta Motors says that the use of funds goes to the expanding the company’s existing manufacturing and R&D facility in Brisbane, CA; refining the company’s vehicle technology; and developing more lightweight vehicles.
From the funding, Alta Motors sees two more board members added to the company’s board of directors: Travis Bradford, Professor of Practice and Director of the Energy and Environment graduate program at Columbia University, and Hector Sepulveda, Managing Partner at Mountain Nazca.
To call the last couple of years for MV Agusta turbulent would probably be understating the situation.
The company has struggled for financial stability ever since its re-acquisition by the Castiglioni family, and that struggle has recently come to a zenith with the firms debt restructuring and investment by the Anglo-Russian investment group Black Ocean.
With that comes some harsh realities, namely that MV Agusta will not be producing a new superbike any time soon, as the cost of the project exceeds the Italian manufacturer’s capabilities – so said MV Agusta CEO Giovanni Castiglioni while talking to Alan Cathcart for Australian Motorcycle News.
Last week, I was ready to start polishing the obituary for MV Agusta – the Italian company seemingly in an impossibly terminal state.
Italy’s Guardia di Finanza had found that the Italian company had been using the social security contributions of its workers to pay down the money owed to parts suppliers (something MV Agusta disputes is the case), and earlier this year MV Agusta CEO Giovanni Castiglioni was investigated for irregularities on his tax return.
All of this is on top of the ever precarious financial situation MV Agusta has been in for the past year, which has resulted in the company looking to restructure its €50 million debt in the Italian court system, furlough a good portion of its workforce, and reduce its production volume to roughly 9,000 units per year.
Now it seems MV Agusta’s fortunes are changing, with the Italian motorcycle maker signing an agreement with the Black Ocean investment group to recapitalize MV Agusta.
Details of the pending transaction haven’t been released, but we can assume that the increase in capital will help ease MV Agusta’s relationship with suppliers, get workers back on the assembly line, and continue the development of new models.
Skully on Friday finally acknowledged what has already been known in the motorcycling community: the company was going out of business. The news comes after a last-minute effort by the remaining management to secure a new round of funding.
With $15 million down the drain, work still to do before the Skully AR-1 would be ready to ship, and a growing group of disgruntled early adopters, Skully’s resurrection was not to be.
Instead in a letter to backers and customers, Skully announced that it would be filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the bankruptcy procedure for companies that are going out of business. This news, of course, directly impacts the thousands of motorcyclists who were expecting to receive a Skully AR-1 helmet.