How has the weak dollar impacted business for KTM?
Trunkenpolz: Tremendously, because in the first three quarters we lost €21 million in profit, so it has been a tough issue. A big part of Europe is also already in recession. It's a sad thing; the entire globe is in a critical economic situation.
On the one side, we cater to the premium customer who can afford a motorcycle; on the other side, a motorcycle is not something you necessarily need to survive. But since our customers are really quite brand loyal and desire that top-level product, I think we may be suffering less than others.
What's going on with Bajaj — the Indian firm that purchased about 25% of KTM earlier this year? Numerous India-based news outlets report the two firms working on a scooter, small car and trike.
Trunkenpolz: (laughs) None of that is correct. It's 100% wrong. We?re working on 125cc and 250cc projects and that's it. I also want to stress: The rest of our production will remain in Austria — we will not move any production from Austria to India because it would be totally contrary to our otherwise premium strategy.
Why did KTM hook up with Bajaj?
Trunkenpolz: The strategic partnership we have with Bajaj is essential to us. Asia and India will be a tremendous market, and so we feel we have to be there to take advantage of that. And, if you want to be there, you need a partner. Otherwise you'll never make it in that market.
Finally, you mentioned the X-Bow automobile. You've told me it's coming to the U.S.
Trunkenpolz: We want to sell it in the U.S.
Burleson: The car has offered a huge brand impact for us in the States already. However, as Hubert has mentioned, our biggest stumbling block is to address the liability issue. When you look at the car, there are some issues that you have to prepare for in this market.
Trunkenpolz: We've passed European homolugation. It's racecar homolugation, so you can't produce a million of them, but that's not our intention. We've also placed some purchasing restrictions on the car: We do not sell it to anyone under 24 years old, and every customer must attend a five-hour driving course.
Would KTM dealers in the U.S. sell the product?
Trunkenpolz: For sure. It's a 100% KTM product.