How Much Will Husqvarna Change?
For starters, I should say that I would really like to know more about the BMW-Pierer Industries AG deal: the one that caused Husky to change hands. There are a lot of suppositions but until further official data surfaces, we'd rather stick to the IDK part.
A quick look at the 5 years under BMW shows contradictory data: first, investments, developing the new range of road machines and then, the financial disaster Pierer found in Italy after gaining control of Husqvarna. I mean, make up your mind, guys: was Husky cool and ok, or was it dying? Not that Husqvarna was a big financial hit in the past, but things were moving. There is something that BMW has been hiding and I can only hope it will come to light soon.
The Husky plant in Italy was shut down, and now Pierer AG announces that Husaberg and Husqvarna will merge into a new company, Husqvarna Sportmotorcycles GmbH. No word on Husaberg kicking the bucket, though everybody seems to know it will.
Some even say that it was high time it did, actually: with small sales figures and the pressure from the other brands, it was rather clear that KTM and Pierer will not be able or willing to keep these three as they were. A decision has been made and now, we are waiting to see the outcome.
So far, this decision laid off some 200 workers at the Italian Husky plant, and this is only the first stage of the big change. Stefan Pierer announced a whole new range of Husqvarna machines, seemingly a completely different line-up from the ones he planned to build with Bajaj in and for India or Asia.
And this is the main question: just how much will these three brands blend? Pierer has already mentioned that Husqvarna and KTM will be sharing platforms, at least a part of them. Some say we are going to see Husaberg engines in Husqvarna frames, while others are more radical and fear that the new Husky will be just old KTM in red and white livery.
Surfing the interwebs and reading what people are saying, I can tell that some show a bit of fear: they fear that the new machines are going to be simply the result of corporate calculations and planning, completely disregarding the customers and that the new breed of machines will just be there to make money at any cost.
They fear that instead of actually creating new bikes, KTM and Pierer will only mix everything from the two H brands with some “orange leftovers,” add in a nice paint job and there you have it, the new Husqvarna.
While we all know that corporations never had any shame or second thoughts with such a dastardly move if big bucks were to be made, I really doubt that Pierer would not see this. I mean, one cannot trick the entire customer base with such poor magic, at least not all and not all the time, and these rather grim times are not the best period for losing the trust of one’s clients.
Even more, I remember a recent interview with the KTM CEO and his statement on building new engines, as many as possible to fill in all the niches and ultimately being able to sell a bike to every kind of buyer. KTM plans a "complete range of models to suit every customer, so they have no possible reason not to buy a KTM," Piere told Cycle News not long ago. And this seems the exact opposite to using the old technology and engines.
In fact, I would not be surprised at all to see KTM expanding their India-made bikes line-up and making nice money by selling them in silly huge numbers in Asia, and making a radical movement with the other brand.
Radical meaning dumping everything and putting an end to the existing Husaberg and Husqvarna machines, and introducing a full range of truly NEW machines. And of course, this new generation of bikes should be the best things that can come out of the Husky, Husa and KTM mix, possibly some sort of ultra-bikes, if you get my point.
With no more street bikes to think of, the new Husqvarna will only be focused on the enduro and MX segments, and try to sell some sort of alternative to KTM... though the dough will end up in the same pocket.
Pierer knows that two similar bike line-ups are simply futile, and that's why I guess we might not be completely wrong expecting to have pretty much any kind of off-road/MX bike at our disposal quite soon.
Fancy a DOHC engine? We've got it! Looking for a less aggressive frame? There we go, we've got three of them! Want a small and evil off-road machine? Make your choice from these models! Feel better with a single-cam power unit? Kein problem!
See the fun in all this? It's in fact a winning recipe: two distinct brands, each with its own heritage and fans, each offering its own type of bikes... and being able to manufacture all of them using more or less the same parts and resources.
Take WP suspensions as a textbook example: KTM own their own top-drawer suspensions manufacturer, and not only are their loading their machines with WP parts, but are also selling them to anyone interested. So the logical thing would be seeing the new Husky bikes roll on WP forks and shocks. Keep everything in the family, sum up the profits.
Rumors have it that the new engines are already in testing at Mattighofen, and judging by Stefan Pierer's promise to deliver new machines in October this year, we might be in for some really cool stuff pretty soon.
October is not that far ahead after all and this makes me wonder whether these new engines (in case they are more than some Husa derivatives) haven't been secretly in development for some time now, and all this commotion is just an extremely well-planned move from Stefan Pierer...