If we asked you which Germanic company was the largest motorcycle brand by volume, you would likely guess BMW Motorrad…and you would be wrong. Snap! Displacing the venerable brand from Bavaria, which set its own sales record, KTM’s 2012 sales year of 107,142 units has handed the Austrian brand the distinction of being the best-selling Germanic brand worldwide (by a margin of less than 1,000 machines). KTM’s growth doesn’t just come from its partnership with Bajaj and sales in India, as the Austrians saw a 9% kick in sales in Europe, which bucks the rest of the industry’s 12% tailspin in that market. Furthermore, that increase in sales was good for a 7.5% market share increase — a huge piece of pie-taking for a single year.
Diving through KTM’s 108 page annual report for 2011, the Austrian company lists a couple of interesting developments in its Research & Development section. Partnering with Bajaj on small-displacement street motorcycles, the first obvious fruit of that labor was the KTM 125 Duke, and the subsequent KTM 200 Duke that is available worldwide. We already know that KTM plans on bringing a 300cc version of the baby Duke to North America, and the Austrian company lists displacements in this project up to 375cc, a strong signal to the final displacement of the much anticipated KTM 350 Duke.
Slowly but surely, Bajaj Auto continues to gobble up pieces of KTM’s stock. Taking its investment position now to just over 47%, Bajaj has acquired another 6.3% of the Austrian motorcycle manufacturer, and is projected to continue acquiring stock in the company.
The second-largest motorcycle manufacturer in India, Bajaj is also the second-largest shareholder in KTM, with KTM’s largest controlling position belonging to Stefan Pierer (KTM CEO) and Rudolf Knuenz (KTM Chairman of the Board), whose combined holdings come to just more than 51% of the company.
If you want a quick synopsis of how the European motorcycle brands performed in 2011, they killed it. BMW, Ducati, Triumph, and now KTM have all reported double-digit sales growth figures for 2011, a stark contrast to the still struggling sales of Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha. Reporting a 22.4% sales increase last year, KTM made a cool €20.7 million in the process of selling its 81,200 units in 2011 (KTM sold 66,327 units in 2010).
Leading the Austrian company’s growth was the KTM 125 Duke, which has been a huge hit in India, its country of origin, but has also helped grow KTM’s market share in Europe. KTM is also reporting that its latest EXC models have helped spur sales, but we suspect it is the new small-displacement Duke, which was made with developing markets in mind, that is really responsible for the surge in sales growth. KTM says that it expects sales in Europe and North America to remain flat, while the company expects to see growth in emerging markets continue (no surprise there).
We’ve featured Slovenian motorcycle stunter Rok Bagoroš and his KTM 125 Duke before, and we’ve talked at length about how the Austrian motorcycle manufacturer makes some of the best promo videos in the biz…needless to say, you can see where this post is headed. In the interest of time, let’s assume I’ve already written enough hyperbole about how great this video is, and also enumerated a sufficient number of points about how current motorcycle industry marketing offends me on a variety of visceral levels. With only a few more weeks remaining in 2011, let’s instead shift the discussion and begin the countdown as to when KTM will bring a larger displacement Duke to the US market.
After first announcing that KTM would build a 200cc model of the new KTM 125 Duke for the Indian market, KTM CEO Stefan Pierer has been quoted as saying that a larger, 350cc, model is in the works, and will debut as a 2013 model year motorcycle. It would seem that the 2012 KTM 350 Duke is also slated as an India-only model, though rumors and plans for a larger displacement Duke for the US market were banded about when the 125cc Duke launched at EICMA last year.
KTM seems set to take the 125 Duke platform as versatile bike for the global markets, matching configurations with localities. Since the 125cc format makes little sense in the United States (do you hear that Aprilia?), expect at least a 250cc version of the Duke to debut later this year, and likely a larger format (450cc?) as well for the US at a later point in time.
We got an email from KTM Factory stunt rider Rok Bagoroš, and the young Slovenian probably has the dream job of more than few motorcyclists. Traveling the world, riding bikes all day, and teaching Spanish cops how to wheelie are just some of the perks of his job. Now that Bagoroš has a gig with the KTM squad, he’s taken possession of the company’s latest motorcycle, the KTM 125 Duke. Tasked with making the entry-level Duke appeal to its target market, KTM has marketed the 125 Duke mostly as a hooligan machine for teenage boys, which is like trying to sell a magnifying glass to a 14 year-old sitting on an ant hill. Enter Bagoroš with his bag of tricks, and the list of things we’d probably break trying to replicate them (getting old is tough).
Is this the KTM 200 Duke? The folks at OverDrive.in were fortunate enough to encounter in Pune what looks like a pre-production KTM Duke destined for the Indian market. Taking the photo above, OverDrive wasn’t certain if this was the KTM 125 Duke that the Austrian company launched at Intermot this year, or if it was a larger displacement version that’s been rumored to be coming from the minds of Bajaj & KTM. Luckily the guys at IndianCarsBikes.in were able to get Rajiv Bajaj on the line and ask him about the photo, and the son of the Bajaj empire confirmed that what we see here is the 200cc KTM 200 Duke that will be an India-only model.
Perhaps our only gripe with the 2011 KTM 125 Duke (besides of course that it’s not coming to America), is the too small for American roads 125cc displacement. With no graduated licensing programs to be found, unlike our European brethren, the 125cc learner format just doesn’t seem to work in our “can travel anywhere by car” society here in the United States. Not to fret says KTM though, as a 250cc or even 300cc version of the orange pocket rocket is under development at the Austrian company.
We think 250cc/300cc would be an ideal size for blasting from stoplight to stoplight on city streets, both for new riders and veteran hooligans alike, and it won’t take much to place the outwardly similarly sized motor in the KTM 125 Duke frame. Thinking along those same veins, KTM says an 18 month trail time is expected from the 125 Duke launch to when we’ll see the next larger iteration.
Bajaj must be celebrating a late Thanksgiving (we might be talking about the wrong Indians here) as the Pune-based automotive group has gobbled up some more shares of Austrian company’s stock. Strengthening the two companies’ strategic partnership, Bajaj has modestly increased its 35.67% interest in KTM, becoming a 38.08% shareholder. Also coming out of the orange brand is news that Stefan Pierer will continue on as CEO of the company through 2015, and Friedrich Roithner, formerly of DGF Cross Industries, will take on the role of Financial Director in the new year.
Finally officially debuted at Intermot, KTM took the wraps off its 2011 KTM 125 Duke, a single-cylinder street bike geared towards young riders. While KTM has always included off-road machines in its line-up that are aimed at getting younger riders to ride orange, the company until now has left a gapping hole in its on-road offering for the same demographic. With Bajaj taking a 35% stake in KTM, the Indian company has not only given the Austrian company the capital it needed to expand its line, but is also rumored to be the major driving force behind the 2011 KTM 125 Duke.