Our man in Europe, Ian delivers a monthly dose of those tasty rumors and hearsay from across the pond that make up our Euro Gossip column.
The goal for the Lucky 13 character is to make riders aware of all the risks involved in riding a motorcycle in an entertaining way.
The prestigious Association des Constructeurs Europeens de Motorcycles, better known as ACEM has just announced a new rider safety program based around a cartoon character called ‘Lucky 13’. The Brussels-based European motorcycle Industry lobby has joined forces with all similar influential bodies within the industry to make riders aware of all the risks involved in riding a motorcycle in an entertaining way.
The organization is a signatory to the European Road safety Charter which aims to reduce road fatalities by 50% by 2010. They are encouraging all dealers etc to help promote its message, which is also aimed at staving off even more restrictive legislation which may put off potential purchasers. This is a positive move aimed at helping dealers in attracting more riders to the world of two wheels and assuring them that it is a good move and will help them save money as well as give them a lot of fun!
KTM has announced it has increased its global sales by 7% in the last year. However, in anticipation of a worsening market it is cutting production by 10% for the forthcoming year. These actions are not enough though to stop it announcing a 14% price increase across all its range.
High-end motorcycle clothing firm Rukka (also well known in the sailing world) is in fact owned by a fashion company called the L-Fashion Group. It has now expanded its motorcycle portfolio to include the Fininish sportswear manufacturer Sinisalo, who are best known for their motocross gear, which apart from the actual clothing, also includes boots, helmets and body armor and protectors. The firm will continue to operate from their existing factories at Poulanka and Oulu in Northern Finland and no changes are envisaged with both brands continuing as separate entities in different motorcycle fields.
Bikes are ready to roll out to dealerships in the next few months. A price and release date for the US market will be available soon.
Rest of the World
Future motorcycles are here with the very real hybrid sport motorcycle by designer Tim Cameron.
Down under, Australian designer Tim Cameron has developed a café racer that he claims gives sportbike performance but frugal petrol consumption figures. He has achieved this by mating a 500cc Parallel Twin motor to the battery pack from a Toyota Prius hybrid vehicle used in conjunction with an electric axial supercharger. The mating of the two is controlled by computer and drive is by a CVT type of transmission based on the Toyota Synergy Drive.
Although the CAF-E, which took just five months to get to concept stage remains there, some of his other designs are already in use and there should be no reason that this machine could not go into production in the future. www.timcamerondesign.com.au
KBX Motorbike Products Private Ltd who supplies 50% of the brake market in India is now partially owned by Italian brake systems manufacturer Brembo. The company based in Pune currently supply Bajaj, Hero Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Royal Enfield to name but a few. This is not a new venture for Brembo though, having established a base in India in 2007, but does allow the Italian firm to expand business in the region.
Despite what the organizers are calling a “difficult economic climate”, the second Bike Asia Show will take place at the end of this month (February 27th to March 1st) following on from last year’s successful inaugural show. According to the show committee Asia is still seeing signs of growth unlike Europe, the USA and Japan. As a result companies such as Piaggio, Aprilia, Moto Guzzi and MV have already signed up.
Yamaha begins to feel the economic pains as it braces for its first operating loss in 26 years.
Last month we reported that the Japanese business press was starting to highlight the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers beginning to feel the effects of the global recession and some of their cost cutting measures, like reducing the salaries of the directors.
Following on from that this month, apparently Yamaha Motor Co. is now bracing itself for its first operating loss since 1983. For the year ending December 31st 2008, it is expected to sink 30 billion yen into the red. As we have previously reported demand is sagging not only for motorcycles, but this has not been helped by the decline in demand for outboard motors used for leisure boats in Japan, the US and Europe. Generating about 90% of its sales for these products abroad, the company will be hit hard by the strong yen as well as the drop in demand. It is claimed that Yamaha will slash domestic motorcycle production by 24% in 2009 to slightly over 260,000 units, the lowest output in roughly four decades.
As a result Yamaha continue to reducing executive salaries and other fixed expenses to at least help offset the continued slide. According to sources within, sales are projected to slide more than 10% from last fiscal year’s estimated 1.6 trillion yen as the firm expects the tough climate to last until at least June.
But, it will not just be those at the top that suffer, as the company will close its main assembly plant in Shizuoka Prefecture, as well as upstream parts factories, for 10 days in February and March, reducing output by 13,000 units. It plans to negotiate with employees for additional work stoppages in the April-June quarter and intends to eliminate all non-full-time workers by the summer, as well as losing some administrative staff!