Husqvarna in 2020: The Brand in Context
In 2013, when KTM bought Husqvarna, the Swedish-born brand sold a total of 11,000 bikes worldwide. By 2018, Husqvarna sold in excess of 48,000 units, generating a turnover of 300 million Euros! And for 2020, Husqvarna’s focus is squarely on overtaking Ducati and Triumph to become Europe’s third largest motorcycle manufacturer. To get a better understanding of what’s driven that phenomenal growth – and an insight into the brand’s future aspirations – we sat down for a chat with Husqvarna’s Head of Global Marketing, Federico Valentini.
TM: Back when KTM first acquired Husqvarna in 2013, you were the brand’s Product Manager and one of the few staffers who ‘came across’ from the BMW-owned Husqvarna. But you’ve spent a few years elsewhere before returning to Husqvarna as Head of Global Marketing, right?
FV: Yes, that is correct, I was one of the few that transitioned into the KTM Group from previous Husqvarna ownership. I’ve been back with the KTM Group for just over a year now, following some years as Product Manager at Ducati. And I’ve been in my new Husqvarna Motorcycles marketing role since Spring this year.
When we spoke at the 2020 enduro model launch in Finland, you referred to the excitement around “the opportunity to re-launch the brand”. Was that what brought you back to Husqvarna? And what exactly do you mean by that?
You could say that Husqvarna Motorcycles is entering its second phase under KTM Group ownership. Our goal is to step up our involvement in the street segment by expanding the street line-up, increasing our sales, and adjusting and improving the way we communicate and engage with street customers, as well as consolidating our success in motocross and enduro. So the answer to your question is yes; that’s why I am involved with the brand once again.
Blue: 2019 Bodywork
White: 2020 Bodywork
Husqvarna’s sales have grown from 11,000 units in 2013 to 48,555 in 2018, with turnover in excess of 300-million Euros. What’s been the primary driver of that growth?
If you think back to the beginning of this decade, Husqvarna was owned by an extremely successful brand, with exceptional marketing and product knowledge. They struggled enormously to achieve sales figures of over 10,000 units a year with the Husqvarna brand. In only the first full year of KTM ownership, Husqvarna Motorcycles immediately reached the highest ever sales figures in its century of existence. KTM was obviously doing something right, and the growth and success haven’t stopped ever since – neither in sales nor in motorsport. Of the 48,555 units sold last year, approximately 15,000 were street bikes, and we aim to push that limit ever higher (obviously without ever forgetting our off-road roots).
How much higher? What are Husqvarna’s future aspirations for growth and sales?
Our intention is to become the third largest European motorcycle manufacturer, which means targeting the likes of Triumph and Ducati. In order to achieve this, we must increase our presence in street bikes, and we must enter new markets in South America and South East Asia. We have platforms we can share within our group in order to achieve this. We are building our dealer network, so we strongly believe we can soon overtake a couple of brands that currently sell just over 50,000 units a year. This doesn’t mean we will be leaving the mature markets behind. Europe, North America and Australia will continue to be of primary importance to us. We are sure customers will be very pleased with the new bikes we will be presenting in the near future.
So it’s a matter of tapping into emerging markets, while consolidating recent growth in the enduro and motocross segments in existing markets?
Yes. The biggest growth in terms of pure sales numbers will clearly be in emerging markets. That means smaller displacement bikes in South America and South East Asia. We will be entering these markets at the end of this year, so in 2020 we plan on seeing growth in terms of overall sales volume for the brand in those markets. Concerning motocross and enduro, we plan on consolidating our market presence with the exceptional products we presented respectively last year and this year. We are not slowing down our development in off-road; that’s for sure!
At the international media launch, you only touched briefly on Husqvarna’s involvement the ‘Urban e-Mobility’ segment, but I sense you guys see a big opportunity there. What can you tell us about that?
The investment in electric mobility in the automotive industry is without precedent. A recent article in Reuters estimated that $300 billion will be spent by OEMs alone (that does not include suppliers or technology companies) in the next five to 10 years. Just to give you an idea of the massive scale of investment, this accelerated rate of industry spending is greater than the economies of Egypt or Chile! It is clear that electric technology will see exceptional development, and by the middle of the next decade, it will most probably be scalable to a great extent on motorcycles of various segments – most probably initially for urban mobility, and then in off-road or closed-circuit motorcycles, and at a later stage, in longer-distance motorcycles. Husqvarna Motorcycles is a forward-thinking, progressive brand, and as such, is developing several e-mobility solutions that will be in-tune with this technology shift.
Speaking of growth, I almost fell off my chair when you casually mentioned that Husqvarna produced more than 40,000 cycles in 2018!
Husqvarna Bicycles is a separate company. For the moment, we have very little overlap, and our marketing department is currently not involved at all with pedal-assisted bicycles. However, it’s a very interesting segment and it would be fun to be involved in the future.
Circling back to the new-gen 2020 enduro models that Husqvarna has just launched, how significant a role will they play in Husqvarna’s overall growth and market penetration plans?
Enduro is our foundation, together with motocross and cross-country. Off-road in general plays a major role in the success of the brand, counting for over two-thirds of our sales. We love our off-road bikes, we are fully committed, we love the competition, and we love racing and winning. This will never change. However, if you have a feel for the worldwide market, if your goal is to grow the brand, if you have ambitious targets and strongly believe you can achieve them, then there is no other way than expanding your presence in street bikes.
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