BMW Target: 150,000 Units By 2012

Hendrik von Kuenheim, General Director, BMW Motorrad, says the OEM plans to boost annual sales 50% to about 150,000 units by 2012. He says BMW's three-pronged strategy for achieving the goals includes increased operational efficiencies, the addition and expansion of Husqvarna's operations in the off-road market, and a new presence in the sportbike market.

Kuenheim shared BMW Motorrad's plan during an April 16 press conference in Munich — his first public address since taking over the position January 1: "BMW Motorrad, like all European motorcycle manufacturers, currently faces special challenges — We see almost daily how conditions are becoming tougher, with the prices of raw materials and energy going up all the time and currency risks becoming greater. To remain competitive we are therefore continuing to enhance our efficiency in development, production and sales, intensifying our international purchasing activities, and creating a very attractive, innovative product portfolio," he said.

"Let me explain briefly just how much the currency issue affects our competitive situation: In the last seven years alone, the dollar and the Japanese yen have lost about 80 percent of their value versus the euro. That means that our main competitors are benefiting from even the slightest weakness of the dollar and the yen, from every drop in value even behind the decimal point. They are able to offer their products at lower prices in the world market and make significant profits all the same.

"Obviously, we must find answers to these challenges, since we cannot pass on these cost disadvantages directly to our customers in a one-to-one process."

BMW completed the acquisition of Husqvarna Oct. 1, 2007. Kuenheim said the Husqvarna purchase "is giving the entire company extra momentum."

"With Husqvarna's very sporting machines, we are able to expand our product range even faster to new groups of purchasers throughout the entire offroad and Supermoto segments than we could with BMW alone," he said.

BMW hopes to boost Husqvarna sales in 2008 to 30 percent more than was achieved in '07. "To reach this target we initiated and implemented a number of activities right from the start when taking over Husqvarna," Kuenheim said. "Production output is developing according to plan. And, after reorganizing our parts business, we have solved our former problems in the supply of spares. At the same time we have launched special programmes and activities for the further improvement of product quality."

Motorcycle racing plays a big part in BMW's plan for growth. Husqvarna remains active in both off-road and supermoto events, and the BMW marque now is only one year away from entering World Superbike Championship with a still-under-development supersport bike called the S 1000 RR.

Kuenheim says the company's plan to enter the World Superbike Championship in 2009 remains on schedule, and he says he's confident the S 1000 RR will serve to "expand and upgrade" BMW Motorrad's brand image and ultimately win over new customers.

"I can confirm that our preparations are proceeding according to plan in every respect: In compliance with the rules of the Series, the new motorcycle will be available to customers in 2009 and we will build 1,000 production models by the end of next year."

BMW is implementing its racing activities in close cooperation with partner Alpha-Racing.

"The process of building up the team is proceeding at full swing and we have already filled the key positions, "Kuenheim says. "The team is a combination of specialists from BMW and members of the Alpha-Technik racing crew, as well as further specialists from professional Superbike racing.

"In the upcoming weeks and months we will systematically start production of the racing machine in its individual power and performance stages, testing the new model as we go along."

The United States served as BMW Motorrad's third largest sales market in 2007, eclipsed only by Germany and Italy. BMW sold 102,467 motorcycles worldwide last year, up 2.4 percent from sales of 100,064 units in 2006. BMW motorcycle sales in the U.S. last year fell 5.7% to 12,094 units.