In part two of our exclusive interview, KTM boss Stefan Pierer talks about the struggles of turning KTM from an off-road brand to an on and off-road brand, and the turmoil at MV Agusta.
Read part one of the interview here.
How hard has it been transitioning from KTM being an off-road brand, to an on- and off-road brand?
SP: It was tough work, I can tell you. It took more than 10 years to get accepted as a street bike brand as well as off-road, to get the right dealer network, to get the right products, and even if you are the world leader in off-road competition it takes at least a decade to become a serious competitor in the market.
MV Agusta appears to be in turmoil right now, would you consider a partial or complete takeover of the company?
SP: MV Agusta is a special thing. But in Italy you have to first pay a lot of money for a nice brand, and secondly you have to pay a lot of money to keep them alive, and finally you have to pay a lot of money to get rid of them. So I don’t want to touch a company in Italy. That was also the reason that we closed down Husqvarna in Varese [Italy] immediately, and brought everything to Austria. And on the other hand we have everything: we have KTM which is covering all the sporty and competition area, and then we have Husqvarna where we can cover the rest. And with MV you are talking about 6000 units a year: that’s one model for KTM. Look at AMG [which invested in MV Agusta] – they have lost more than 30 million. It’s an Italian tragedy.
How do you feel KTM and Husqvarna compliment each other?
SP: They are a very good fit. In the beginning we were a little bit scared: does it work with KTM, because we are racing head-to-head? But what I learned from our racers was: ‘your toughest main competitor is your team-mate – you have to destroy your team-mate’. So we have to take care that it doesn’t end up in a real tragedy – but it’s a fair competition, it’s motivating both companies.
Which model are you most proud of?
SP: The Super Duke GT we are very proud of, and that we could finally become a serious street manufacturer, and still be a world leader in off-road competition – because if you are entering a new segment, you must keep your backbone, and that is still off-road for us.
Have you shaped KTM into the company you always hoped it could become, or is there more work to do?
SP: I didn’t expect what we have achieved for our 25 years, it is beyond every dream, but every day, every year, new challenges, and new possibilities are showing up – and we have to take them. That is the approach as an entrepreneur, and if you have the possibility to make a takeover, you must just do it. But I would never sell KTM.