Jan. 21, 2008 – Hot News

Polaris Industries Begins Looking For New CEO
Longtime Polaris Industries CEO Tom Tiller is stepping down, a decision Tiller said he made because it was the “right time for me, my family and for Polaris.”
Tiller will remain with the Minnesota manufacturer as it looks both internally and externally for his replacement, something the company foresees possibly taking into the third or fourth quarter of this year to occur.
Tiller said the decision to leave did not come as a result of “one triggering event” and he is not leaving for another job. In fact, Tiller said in a conference call with stock analysts that he does not have any outside job offers, “nor am I going to entertain any” until after a successor has been named.
Finding a CEO with a fresh perspective is part of the reason behind the change at the top, Tiller said.
“With all the pressures placed on public companies and their CEOs, I think it is difficult to be effective in the job for 20-25 years,” said Tiller, who has been with the company for 10 years.
Tiller also noted the change is occurring for personal reasons, noting he has “enjoyed a fresh challenge about every seven years or so.”
As CEO, Tiller oversaw the company’s growth in net sales from $1.1 billion in 1998 to nearly $1.8 billion in 2007. The company also more than doubled its percentage of international revenue during Tiller’s tenure.
“I would not anticipate any major changes to the way we have run the company for the past 10 years,” he said of the future. “We will be aggressive and push like hell, and probably make a mistake or two, but we will stay after it.”
Tiller said Polaris’ board of directors made a decision several years ago to look both inside and outside for his replacement at the appropriate time. He did note that Bennett Morgan, Polaris’ president and COO, certainly will be a candidate. Tiller said Morgan “has done an excellent job and with more than 20 years with the company, he may very well be the best person.
“But we won’t know that for sure until we evaluate the best external candidates through a comprehensive search.”
BMW Sees Record Growth in 2007
BMW surpassed its international unit sales record by 2,403 additional motorcycle units sold worldwide in 2007 — an increase of more than 2 percent, according to a BMW press release.
North American numbers were not available.
December sales of 2007, however, did not have the rest of the year’s success with 6,821 units sold, a decrease of 8.1 percent. The rest of the year including December, though, was up 2.4 percent with 102,467 units sold.
Chinese Motorcycle Exports Reach 7 Million-Plus Units
Exports by China’s 91 motorcycle manufacturers reached 7.2 million units between January and November 2007, which is up nearly 23 percent from the last year’s period, according to an article in the People’s Daily.
The exports represent almost one- third of all production. Its ATV exports were up 25.5 percent to 235,700 vehicles from the same period in 2006. Its engines also increased 58.5 percent to 2.3 million units.
The total value of the motorcycle, ATV and engine exports was $3.6 billion, an increase of 27.4 percent from the previous year period. The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers predicts motorcycle exports could surpass 25 million units for 2007.
V-Twin Manufacturer Big Dog Motorcycles Announces Layoff
Big Dog Motorcycles, which is believed to be the largest custom V-twin manufacturer, has announced layoffs, the second such move the company has had to make in the past year.
Big Dog announced Jan. 4 it laid off approximately 20 employees as it seeks to “resize the company to a level that can be successful, even in a down market.”
The company has told Powersports Business its 2007 sales were off roughly 20 percent from a year ago.
The layoffs occurred throughout the company, according to a Big Dog press release.
The release stated that once the U.S. economy rebounds, “Big Dog Motorcycles is perfectly positioned to continue to be the dominant player in our market for years to come.”
KTM Progressing On Its Sports Car Project
Not a year after developing its first ATVs for the U.S. market, European manufacturer KTM is racing ahead on another four-wheel project: its X-Bow.
The X-Bow is a sports car — complete with an Audi engine that goes from 0-to-60 mph in less than 4 seconds — the company unveiled last year.
Since its debut, the X-Bow has received enough interest that KTM announced this spring it will begin production on the car. The company earlier this year said it had already received 1,000 orders for the lightweight sport car, which has a dead weight of approximately 1,500 pounds.
The sports car has passed the necessary emission tests in Europe. Consumers there can order the sports car directly from one of the 700 KTM motorcycle dealers in Europe. KTM officials say they have yet to complete U.S. emission tests and do not know if the sports car will become available for the U.S. market in 2008. However, KTM officials told Powersports Business in September t they expected the X-Bow to come to the North American market in the next 12-15 months, if not sooner.
KTM officials also told Powersports Business they might bring the car to North American as a race track-only vehicle.
The X-Bow features what KTM calls a “reduced concept” design as the vehicle does not have a roof, doors or a windshield, having just a small transparent wind deflector.
Production of the X-Bow will begin with a special series limited to 100 vehicles. This “KTM X-Bow Dallara” premium series has additional equipment, including a mechanical limited slip differential on the rear axle, central wheel locks and a racing chassis, which also has springs with adjustable preliminary tension.
The standard X-Bow, KTM said, will cost euro 45,850 or $67,000-plus.
Yamaha, South Seas Cycle Exchange Part of Settlement
Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A. and South Seas Cycle Exchange Inc. have entered into a court-approved settlement agreement for $2 million with the state of California, the California Air Resources Board reported Dec. 26.
The agreement does not constitute an admission of violation of any law or regulation.
Yamaha U.S.A. is based in Cypress, Calif.; South Seas in Honolulu.
The case involved importation or delivery of non-California certified motorcycles to California residents that were later registered or sold in California, something that is prohibited by state law, according to the California Air Resources Board.
Under the terms of the agreement, Yamaha U.S.A. agreed to pay approximately $1.2 million to the Air Pollution Control Fund, approximately $500,000 to fund a Supplemental Environmental Project to test the impact of ethanol fuel blends on evaporative and exhaust emissions from off-road engines and approximately $300,000 to California’s attorney general’s office for attorneys’ fees. Yamaha U.S.A. and South Seas are also restrained from violating the non-California certified motorcycle law for 10 years.
Nonprofit To Offer Rider Scholarships
Riders University, a southern California based nonprofit organization, will give scholarships for free motorcycle training to requesting individuals, according to a press release.
The university plans to give the scholarships to first-time purchasers of high-powered motorcycles with little or no formal rider training. The scholarships will give them formal training through organizations like the Motorcycle Safety Foundation at no extra cost.
Riders University says although the proven methods for training riders exist, they often go unrecognized, or they aren’t financially accessible to riders. psb

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