Think KTM is simply a small Austrian firm that makes off-road bikes? Think again, the boys in orange are setting their sights on European domination
I had a perception of KTM. I saw it as a small firm that makes very good off-road bikes and a few on-road models. And I'm sure I wouldn't have been alone in this view. For anyone who doesn't know off-road, or indeed has never ventured near a KTM dealer, the only knowledge you would have is of its mud-based reputation. Turns out my preconception was well wide of the mark.
KTM has more road bike dealers in the UK than Harley-Davidson, more than Ducati and even more than BMW. There are actually 36 KTM dealers in the UK selling its range of road bikes. BMW has 35. Surprised? I found this out on the recent launch of KTM's new 990 Super Duke, so I dug a bit deeper. KTM currently makes around 85,000 bikes a year, which isn't far off BMW's 101,352 it achieved in 2006. Although 55,000 of KTM's production are off-road bikes this is a young company that's really on the move. Why? Simple, it's already monopolised the off-road market (45% global share) and is now hungrily chasing a big slice of the on-road segment. Not bad for a company that was officially bust 16 years ago...
Yes, although the firm was founded in 1953 by Mr Kronreif and Mr Trunkenpoltz and based in Mattighofen (hence KTM) it stopped producing bikes (and radiators, mopeds and bicycles) and went into receivership in 1991. But only for a week. During this time Austrian industrialist Stefan Pierer bought and relaunched the brand.
KTM sold off its bicycle and raditor making businesses, concentrated on making off-roaders, and by the end of 1992 it had made 6000 motorbikes. Fast forward 15 years and this number is 85,000 with the target of 100,000 by 2009.
So how's this Austrian firm doing it, what's behind the fortunes of KTM and what's in its plans for the future? All answers I hoped to find during my visit as TWO was granted exclusive open door access to KTM's factory.
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