KTM annually invests $40 million, or slightly more than 7% of its yearly sales, into racing programs. Backing its marketing tagline of “Ready to race,” the company funds off-road motorcycle disciplines, is a supporter of various supermoto series, and recently entered Moto GP competition to the benefit of its burgeoning on-road program.
KTM's eagerness to race is why a number of retailers assembled in Ohio for the brand's annual dealer meeting say they look forward to the Austrian manufacturer's entry into the ATV market. Factory-backed racing efforts bring funding for increased research and development, advertising and, often times, increased consumer interest and sales.
Speaking to Powersports Business at the dealer meeting, Winfried Kerschhaggl, KTM worldwide marketing manager, said plans call for a KTM brand ATV to be available in 2006, and - emphasizing that any such product to come from KTM would be “for real competition” - confirmed that a KTM motor would be dropped into a Polaris chassis.
“A pure race-oriented ATV will be built and branded by KTM,” Kerschhaggl said. “Our plan is to first development a race ATV based on North American demands, then make a Euro version of it.”
Asked whether KTM's R&D team from California would assist in ATV development, he said: “It could be that they work in something like suspension development, but main development will be done in Austria with help from Polaris. They have much more knowledge in chassis development, so it would be stupid not to use them.”
WHY SPORT QUADS?
In his presentation to dealers, Kerschhaggl said KTM's entry into the sport ATV market was brought about by five main points: 1) the European ATV market is growing faster than motorcycle market and has reached a serious volume for the first time; 2) in the U.S., the ATV market is already larger than the motorcycle market; 3) “competition” quads make up the fastest growing ATV segment; 4) KTM has the competitive engine platform; and 5) KTM has a racing heritage.