HOT NEWS – November 17, 2003

Dart to lead BlueRibbon Coalition
Bill Dart has been named executive director of the BlueRibbon Coalition to replace Clark Collins, co-founder of the non-profit organization, who is taking another position with the organization. The change is effective Jan. 1, 2004.
The BlueRibbon Coalition represents the interests of off-highway vehicle recreationists, backcountry horseback riders, mountain bicycle enthusiasts and other similar groups.
Dart, the BlueRibbon public lands director, will become only the second executive director for the coalition. Collins, who has served for 16 years as its head, will stay on in the newly-created position of development director where he will concentrate on fund raising and membership development.
Dart worked as a legislative officer for the American Motorcyclist Association in California for nearly 15 years prior to joining BlueRibbon. He also served on the BlueRibbon board for 13 years prior to joining the group.
Troubles Plague Merch
Trading in the common stock of Merch Performance, Inc., of Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, was halted Oct. 23, 2003. It was the latest in a series of bad news plaguing the motor manufacturer.
The Alberta Securities Commission (ASC), a regulatory agency and member of the Canadian Securities Administrators, issued a Cease Trade Order (CTO) because the company failed to file first quarter financial statements for the period ended July 31, 2003.
It has been a difficult year for Merch Performance, Inc., the Canadian engine manufacturer with a subsidiary, Merch Performance, Inc. USA, in St. Louis, Mo. The company that started 2003 with a restructured board of directors experienced mass resignations by mid-September, just prior to missing the deadline for filing its financials.
In October 2002, the company’s newly elected board of directors — Gerald Merchant, Nace Panzica, Jim Sekora, Dan Fitzmaurice, Jim Wild and Larry Strilchuk — approved a restructuring of Merch Performance’s management team. Gerald Merchant resigned as president and CEO of the corporation; Jim Wild, president of Harley-Davidson of Southern Alberta Inc., became interim president and CEO and joined Jim Sekora on the management team.
By Sept. 2, 2003, Sekora tendered his resignation as CFO and general manager, and as a director of Merch effective Sept. 8, 2003. On Sept. 29, Wild tendered his resignation as a director and president, and Larry Strilchuk tendered his resignation as a director
Powersports Business calls and e-mails to Merch Performance headquarters were not returned.
Merch supplies engines to Viper Motorcycle Company, New Hope, Minn., and its engines are very popular with custom bike makers.
Husaberg May Return
Barrett Marketing Group, under their BMG Sports Division, located in Woodstock, NB, is relaunching the Husaberg Motorcycle marque after acquiring North American distribution rights from Husaberg parent company KTM Sport Motorcycles.
The company was unable to deliver ’03 units until late June, says Mike Klausen, product manger for Barrett’s Motorcycle Division, due to lengthy contract negations.
“Consumers thought the brand was no longer available,” says Klausen, “and (they) made other buying decisions. We are looking forward to working with our existing dealer base and are actively seeking new dealers that can help us reposition Husaberg as a serious alternative in the super competitive off-road four stroke motorcycle market.”
Available models will include FE Enduro, FC Motocross and FS Supermoto in sizes ranging from 450cc, 550cc and 650cc displacements. Units will be warehoused in Orlando and OEM parts will be distributed from Tennessee.
Dealers wishing further information should contact Klausen, at 403/850-1402 or email
Proton Eyes MV Agusta
Malaysian car manufacturer Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional Bhd, or Proton, reportedly is considering acquiring a 50% stake in Italian motorcycle manufacturer MV Agusta Motor SpA.
Proton’s chief executive Mahaleel Ariff has signed a letter of intent with MV’s founder and owner Claudio Castiglioni, reported Bernama, the Malaysian government-owned news agency. If completed, the move would give Proton a controlling stake in the motorcycle manufacturer, as well as international distribution rights to MV Agusta, Cagiva and Husqvarna brands.
Study: 35.6 million bikes to be sold in 2007
Worldwide demand for motorcycles is expected to advance 5.2% annually and result in sales of more than 35 million units in the year 2007, says a Cleveland, Ohio, research organization.
The Freedonia Group, an international business research company, says the global motorcycle industry will go through a restructuring phase in coming years, driven by increased income levels in emerging markets, continued strong sales in the U.S. and Western Europe, and advancements in technology.
In a new study it has titled World Motorcycles, Freedonia says there are two separate motorcycle markets. One is centered in what it calls the industrialized Triad (the U.S., Japan and Western Europe), where motorcycles are seen as pleasure vehicles by consumers who already have one or more automobiles. These motorcycles tend to be large, powerful machines that cost on average about $4,000 to $7,000 in the U.S. and Europe, and less in Japan.
The firm says the market for larger displacement motorcycles will remain strong, but says some concerns regarding future demand have emerged due to the aging of the customer base, especially in the U.S. and Western Europe.
The other, much larger market in unit terms is in the emerging economies of the Asia/Pacific region, where motorcycles are seen as primary family and work vehicles. According to the study, demand for scooters, mopeds and light motorcycles will remain relatively robust in emerging markets such as India, China and Southeast Asia, due to increased incomes.
The third influence on the worldwide motorcycle industry, according to the study, is a transition in technology driven by several factors, most noticeably exhaust emission regulation.
Polaris To Build Center
Polaris Industries, Medina, Minn., manufacturer of powersports equipment, plans to build a $25 million research center in Wyoming, Minn., a small town north of the Minneapols-St. Paul metropolitan area.
The project, which will use state-sponsored tax breaks, eventually will employ 300. The 100,000-square-foot research center is located on a 620-acre building site and is expected to open in 2005.
Most of the company’s research work now is done in Spirit Lake, Iowa, and Osceola, Wis., where Polaris has manufacturing plants. Some research done at Polaris’ snowmobile plant in Roseau, Minn., also will be transferred to the Wyoming facility.
Among incentives Polaris will receive from the state of Minnesota is a $500,000 interest-free loan. The state also will pay another $1 million to reroute a county road to accommodate the research center.

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