KTM’s Joint Venture with GasGas: What It Means

2 weeks ago | Words: Andy Wigan | Photos: GasGas Motorcycles GmbH, Markus Berger, GasGas Images

In September last year, KTM Industries AG (which is now called Pierer Mobility AG) announced that it had struck up a deal with the owners of GasGas Motorcycles, Black Toro Capital. But beyond that short PR’s talk of “…a future industrial cooperation with the famous Spanish motorcycle brand, under the lead of KTM…” and the joint venture’s plans to co-develop Trials and Enduro motorcycles in Spain, details were pretty thin on the ground. And they’ve remained that way ever since.

Admittedly, in late 2019, there was an interview with KTM’s President/CEO, Stefan Pierer, in Cyclenews Magazine, which revealed this “third brand” and a few of the deal’s broad implications. Plus, GasGas publicly announced their intentions to expand the brand’s competition program to include the Dakar Rally, MXGP, Enduro and Extreme Enduro, and boasted that Laia Sanz and Taddy Blazusiak would ‘jump ship’ from KTM to GasGas.

But what does this deal actually mean – for KTM, for GasGas, for the motorcycles that’ll bear the GasGas marque in the future, and for us, the consumer? Well, there’s been a lot of speculation and deductive reasoning on the subject. But with most of it amounting to little more than guesswork, we decided to speak directly with KTM Motorcycles Australia’s General Manager, Jeff Leisk, for some more concrete answers…

TM: In your view, what will the overarching impact of this deal be, Jeff? Are people rightfully concerned about the increasing concentration of ownership with motorcycle manufacturers?
JL: In general, customers will benefit with the platform-sharing strategy in long-term perspective development costs, and technology can be optimised. And with that, we will be in the position to offer the GasGas brand as a fun and approachable launchpad into the performance off-road motorcycle world. Customers do not need to be concerned.

The deal is referred to as a “joint venture”, but with Pierer Mobility taking a controlling interest in GasGas, how does this deal differ from KTM’s outright purchase of Husqvarna back in 2013?
GasGas Motorcycles GmbH was created and to take ownership of the GasGas brand, and will be responsible for the commercialization of the GasGas-branded products globally.

In that Cyclenews interview, Stefan Pierer suggested that they would follow a similar strategy to Husqvarna, and use KTM’s platforms to create a new GasGas enduro range. He also said that the decision to enter the motocross market with GasGas meant that, “…we will have three different brands to beat the Japanese with!”. Do you get the sense that the competitive rivalry between European and Japanese manufacturers had a lot to do with the appeal of GasGas for KTM?
GasGas is a great addition to the brands of the KTM AG, expanding the model offering on the off-road side by the addition of trials motorcycles. Both a strong trials model portfolio and an entry-level off-road model portfolio will be key to the success of the GasGas brand.

Indeed! Stefan Pierer was quoted as saying, “What we’re doing with GasGas is clear, because we’re still missing the last product in the off-road world, which is a trials bike, and GasGas has been a leading brand in that sector for many years”. With such small volumes in the trials segment, surely that can’t have been a driving force behind the deal. Or can it?
The trials model line-up for sure was important, as GasGas is one of the major players in this niche segment.

And GasGas will finally get a four-stroke that’s not powered by a Yamaha engine!
GasGas enduro and motocross models will share the same engine platform as the other KTM AG brands.

Will the production facilities for GasGas be kept in Spain, or relocated to Austria, as KTM did with Husqvarna back in 2014?
Production of the GasGas trials models in Salt, Girona, was re-started in February, showing our commitment to the production location in Spain.

And KTM has a big R&D hub in Barcelona, which is not far from the GasGas factory in Girona, right?

How different are the new GasGas bikes likely to be from their KTM and Husqvarna counterparts? And will KTM’s experience with Husqvarna prompt a different approach this time around; so that the risk of GasGas simply cannibalizing sales from its new sister brands is minimised?
GasGas will offer an entry-level off-road platform at a lower price point than KTM. This will be achieved with a bit different specification. No more details for now though, unfortunately. Official pricing will follow with the launch of the MY2021 in the Australian market by the end of the year. Different specification will dictate a different pricing.

And with KTM owning WP Suspension, there’s little chance of the GasGas models retaining the Kayaba suspension components, right?
Yes, that is correct.

When is production of the new GasGas models going to take place, and when can we expect to see them in Australian dealers?
MY2020 trials bike production has already started in Girona, Spain. The first trials bikes should land on the dealer floors in Australia by April-May, 2020. It’s too early to comment on further products.

What are your plans for the GasGas dealer network in Australia?
Just like our KTM and Husqvarna brands, we will build a comprehensive network of experienced, fully trained dealers to support the complete GasGas product line across Australia and New Zealand.

Will the production of GasGas electric bikes continue under their Torrot parent company’s brand?
Unfortunately, we cannot comment on behalf of Torrot.

Will we see any GasGas-branded street models? And will they be made in India in the future?
Again, too early to comment on that.

Late last year, GasGas announced that they’d signed Laia Sanz and Taddy Blasuziak for the Dakar and enduro events, respectively, and that Glenn Coldenhoff and Ivo Monticelli would race on an all-new GasGas MX bike on an all-new MXGP team in 2020. Can we expect to see GasGas race teams in Australia in 2020 or 2021? And in what disciplines?
No, not in 2020 due to the late market launch of the off-road models. But possibly in 2021, we will see GasGas competing in the race major series.

Lastly, and probably most importantly, what does all this mean for the consumer?
Customers will benefit greatly from our platform-sharing strategy that delivers superior technology through optimising the development costs. GasGas will positioned as a fun and approachable launchpad into the performance off-road motorcycle world.

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