The Austrian company has soared to substantial heights under the leadership of Stefan Pierer and is only going further from here
KTM in 2018 outsold BMW and Harley-Davidson in terms of sales figures and they did so by a significant margin. KTM sold nearly a lakh units more than BMW and this is including the Motor Works scooter line. And for the first time ever KTM sold 33,000 more bikes that Harley-Davidson. Record figures for KTM. All this has happened courtesy of KTM’s motorcycles. But a major factor to that success is the company’s management. KTM has been around for a while now (1934-) but it gained recognition only post world war ll where the founder of KTM Hans Trunkenpolz channelled resources towards making durable bikes that would be well received by the people recovering from the after effects of the war. KTM did well and Hans’s son Eric took over after his deaths as KTM went on to become one of Austria’s biggest brands long before Red Bull was in the picture. But it was when Eric passed away in 1989 and when the company went into the hands of misguided investors that KTM was driven into bankruptcy.
Enter Stefan Pierer. He bought KTM for a meagre $7 million in 1991 (Rs 48 crore in today’s rate. The build quality on the KTM’s then was horrible and they were mocked for it. Stefan tossed out all other project including the original scooter and street line and diverted all focus towards the off-roading segment. Stefan knew a racing direction would be necessary and it was in 2001 that KTM won Dakar and has been undefeated since. These strategic decisions by Stefan have changed KTM’s trajectory of growth and has brought KTM back into the big leagues.
Around the time KTM won Dakar in 2001, the company brought back the street line and these motorcycles are responsible for half of their sales today. Another game changing move Stefan was responsible for is partnering with Bajaj Auto Ltd, Indian motoring giant back in 2007. The deal her was KTM would give Bajaj some of its technology and automotive expertise in return for a manufacturing hub along with the Bajaj Auto Ltd sales network.
Stefan can be credited of not only KTM but also revived Husqvarna after BMW’s failed attempts to do the same. Stefan Pierer is now also trying to acquire Ducati and would like to have a go at rebranding Triumph.
Today, KTM is manufacturing more bikes in a week than they were the first year Stefan joined.
In the bigger picture of things KTM is nothing but a blip in the map of sales revenue compared to brands like Honda and Yamaha. And despite selling more bikes than BMW and HD, BMW and HD have have made more income, $2.4 Billion (Rs1.6 lakh crores) and $5Billion (Rs 3.5 lakh crores) respectively compared to KTM’s (Rs 1.2 lakh crores). But Stefan says that he feels KTM can be at least third in the ‘most bikes sold race’ by 2022 and feels that they can almost double their sales by then.
Stefan Pierer also envisions an electric future for KTM where he expects on quarter of 2025 KTM sales to consist of electric two-wheelers.