At a packed BMW Motorrad and Husqvarna press conference on the opening day of the EICMA motorcycle exhibition in Milan, Italy, there were several themes in evidence – and all of them positive. With record worldwide sales predicted for 2011, it was the perfect time and place for the brand to unveil two more additions to their model line-up: the C600 Sport and C650GT Maxi-Scooters.
Heavy, gridlocked Milan-bound traffic would have contributed to a difficult and frustrating journey for anyone trying to get to the Fiera Milano exhibition center in time for Tuesday’s BMW Motorrad press conference – unless they arrived by scooter of course. However, despite it being the earliest press conference of the day, a packed hall of journalists was there to witness the world premier of the eagerly awaited Maxi-Scooters.
The exhibition stand focused heavily on the theme of Urban Mobility – featuring images of futuristic cityscapes and ‘mega-city’ infrastructures – gave a hint of what was to come. Director of BMW Motorrad, Hendrik von Kuenheim opened proceedings at this, the most important motorcycle and scooter show of the year, with the confirmation that even in times of global crisis, it is possible to succeed with a strong product line-up and a sustainable growth strategy.
Indeed, with 2010 sales 12.3% up on the previous year and a further increase of 6% to date in 2011, it was confirmed that the brand will sell more than 103,000 motorcycles before the end of the year. This will of course be a historic sales record, with the added bonuses of market share, turnover and profit also being at all-time highs. A truly outstanding achievement in challenging circumstances, the result of which means that BMW Motorrad is now a volume leader in 12 markets.
Furthermore, market share in Germany is now 25% and with BMW Motorrad continuing to be the strongest brand in Italy, the Milan EICMA show was the perfect place to host the launch of the two new Maxi-Scooters.
Before the covers were lifted off the new machines, there was time to introduce several important model revisions and additions, all continuing to enhance the appeal of the brand. These included the updated S1000RR Superbike for 2012 with improved power delivery and agility; the new G650GS Sertão, a package upgrade to the single-cylinder ‘all-rounder’ to improve off-road ability; and the R1200GS Rallye special edition which builds upon 30 years of heritage with design features reminiscent of the famous works Motorsport rally bikes. There was also a new F800R model update with enhanced visual appeal for 2012 and the special edition K1300R and K1300S models, now offered with HP (High Performance) Package.
Head of BMW Motorrad Design David Robb then took to the stage, complete with marker pen and giant sketch pad to illustrate his team’s vision of what a Maxi-Scooter from BMW Motorrad should represent, what design cues give it a distinctive look and why it was important for them to do it the “BMW Motorrad way,” rather than emulating the competition. Then it was time for action as the two new Maxi-Scooters were ridden onto the stage to applause.
Clearly BMWs from the first glance, the C600 Sport and C650GT share the same technical basis but come at you from very different angles. If your focus is on dynamic riding and cutting-edge looks, the C600 Sport will be right up your street, while the GT will appeal to those with a focus on comfort, touring capability and better weather protection.
Made by BMW and built in Berlin, both Maxi-Scooters share a smooth revving 650cc two-cylinder inline engine, with around 60hp and 49 ft-lb (66Nm) of torque on tap. The company’s long-standing expertise with road and touring bikes has provided the foundation for this important project, which takes BMW Motorrad straight into new business areas beyond the existing product portfolio. Combining the agility and comfort of a scooter with the ride quality of a motorcycle, both machines are typical BMWs when it comes to safety and the environment, with ABS as standard, daytime running light options, low levels of fuel consumption, and of course, low emissions.
With individual mobility, increasing traffic levels, rising energy costs and CO2 emissions among many of the challenges of the future, BMW’s entry into this new market segment is a timely one. Start of production is imminent and the first customer deliveries are expected early in spring 2012.
Sharing the spotlight and the stage with BMW Motorrad was Husqvarna Motorcycles, which is looking to penetrate new segments and markets in these uncertain times and hoping to reverse its declining sales.
Proving that the company is very much back “on the road,” Husqvarna President Klaus Allisat reported on a successful launch of the Nuda 900 – the first motorcycle completely developed in collaboration with BMW Motorrad. With its unmistakable Husqvarna identity, stunning looks and powerful 900cc engine, this exciting road bike has generated more than 400 online pre-orders in just a couple of weeks since Internet reservations started.
With 90 percent of the world motorcycle market accounted for by on-road models, it’s no surprise that the brand is continuing its push into new (or old) areas, despite the fact that it has already collected another four off-road world championships in 2011. An unexpected but very welcome world premier at EICMA was then unveiled by chief designer Raffaele Zaccagnini. Known as the ‘Concept Moab,’ this retro scrambler is Husqvarna’s vision for the next stage of expansion of its on-road range. It draws on the highly successful heritage of the brand, especially the dominant period in the USA in the 1960s, but features state-of-the-art technology. Rest assured that the company is working full out to prepare this model for series production.
All in all, the press conference from BMW Motorrad and Husqvarna had plenty of good news to communicate, many stunning new machines on show and a commitment to enthusiasts of the brands that there will be even more models in more segments in the future.