KTM today announced its present and future plans in the emerging electric motorcycle market during a live-streamed press conference in Austria today while unveiling the 2018 KTM Freeride E-XC, and apparently there is a lot more to come in the segment that the company is calling “E-mobility.”
KTM says that it is the current leader in the electric motorcycle market, with 3000 units sold, giving it an 80 percent market share, and the company has already invested just under 20 million Euros in developing electric bikes, according to KTM CEO and Chairman Stefan Pierer.
“I am convinced that the electric mobility in the future takes place in the powered two-wheeler world,” Pierer said. “In that we have a clear focus and a clear strategy. We are developing motorcycles that will be from 250-400 Watts up to 15 Kilowatts.”
The timing to invest in electric motorcycles appears to be good for KTM, which expects to break a sales record in 2017. KTM sold 200,000 units in 2016.
“KTM’s success story is an ongoing one,” Pierer said. “We will have more than 1.5 billion Euro in sales. I am looking at more than 230,000 in unit sales. All in all, we keep the speed, and we want to become a real big global player.”
Executive Board Member and Head of Sales Hubert Trunkenpolz suggested that KTM and Husqvarna electric motorcycles can assist KTM’s growth plans in the burgeoning Asian motorcycle market.
“With our strategic alliance with Bajaj [of India], we are managing also to have a strong entry into the emerging markets in Asia and in Latin America,” Trunkenpolz said. “We expect double-digit growth in almost all regions where we are present. We will have sustainable growth in North America, in Latin America, in Europe, but the big growth driver for sure will be Asia in the next coming years. It’s a very, very dynamic market. We have been in China. We have been in Southeast Asia, and it is unbelievable how the motorcycle market is developing there.”
You can read our review of the 2017 KTM Freeride E-XC HERE.
Gerald Kiska of Kiska Design, which is responsible for KTM brand development, added that KTM’s E-mobility strategy will give motorcycle customers another option to experience the brand.
“We are always driven by customer needs, and this is also, I think, our program for the future,” Kiska said. “With this technology we can fulfill wishes that cannot be fulfilled today. Therefore I think this opens up a complete new market. This is an opportunity that we have to use.”
That opportunity includes more models in the near future, and Kiska touched on them.
“Our next serial product will be a minibike for the kids,” Pierer said. “We will replace the 50cc mini with an E-SX, so two models in one that will replace the combustion two-stroke engine that we have in place at the moment. The very next one, then, is a product that will be a crossover between the bicycle and the motorcycle. We will come to the market next season with electric bicycles under the brand name Husqvarna.”
“It was our long-term strategy to step into the E-bike segment, but we didn’t have a plan to do it that quickly,” Pierer added. “A German-based, very experienced family bicycling business was looking for a new opportunity, and we took it immediately. In the next couple of years, for sure, we will do a lot in that segment.”
But for now, the 2018 KTM Freeride E-XC will remain KTM’s flagship motorcycle in the electric motorcycle segment. MSRP for the 2018 Freeride E-XC will be around 7500 Euros, not an outrageous price tag, but the difficulty with electric motorcycles remains the cost of the battery. KTM is well aware of that, and the company has developed a new strategy to make batteries more accessible to customers. According to Trunkenpolz, KTM is planning to offer a lease program for batteries and chargers. The cost will be less than 50 Euros per month, and it will allow customers to have access to the newest and most powerful batteries as they become available.
To debut the 2018 Freeride E-XC, KTM had multi-time FIM SuperEnduro World Champion and AMA EnduroCross Champion Taddy Blazusiak ride the bike down a series of ramps inside the hangar where the press conference was taking place. Blazusiak rolled silently onto the stage, and afterward he joked about it.
“It’s something very special for me to ride a motorcycle that nobody can hear,” Blazusiak said. “It’s very different. It’s still performing well, going fast, good brakes, like a dirtbike. You can ride it hard, but you can’t hear it.”
When asked what he thought about the idea of electric dirtbikes one day becoming a much larger portion of the dirtbike world, Blazusiak responded, “We went from two-strokes to four-strokes, and this is the future. I’m looking forward to it.”
KTM has released the following press release regarding its 2018 KTM Freeride E-XC:
KTM unveiled its second-generation FREERIDE E-XC model year 2018 at the Red Bull Hangar-7 in Salzburg, Austria and presented its future plan for the e-mobility segment.
**IMPORTANT NOTE REGARDING THE ATTACHED DOCUMENT “MY18 KTM FREERIDE E-XC MEDIA INFORMATION”: please note that the KTM FREERIDE E-XC is not street legal in North America. Additionally, the KTM PowerWear shown in this document is not available in North America.
The powerful and agile KTM FREERIDE E-XC is now even better. Powered by a state-of-the-art electric motor with a peak of 18 kW fitted into a re-designed composite frame that provides even better stability, this e-machine now benefits from a 50% capacity increase in its new KTM PowerPack, which offers up to one and a half hours of riding time with just one battery charge. The new KTM FREERIDE E-XC now also utilizes energy recuperation when coasting or braking for an additional range boost, and the battery has a quick charging time, while also providing 70% of its initial capacity after 700 charge cycles. In addition, this lightweight bike boasts a new WP Xplor 43 upside-down fork system with enhanced sensitivity, and a new WP PDS Xplor shock absorber with improved progression and adjustment options.
The KTM FREERIDE E-XC features three riding modes: Economy, Enduro and Cross. Its easy operation, with no clutch or gear shift lever, and a confidence inspiring low seat height of just over 900mm, combined with its extreme cross-country agility, ensures that this is the ultimate electrically powered machine for beginners to experienced level riders. Stylish new bodywork with racy graphics, trim and colors, a new dashboard and re-positioned ignition lock provide further benefits over the previous model. Producing zero emissions and minimal noise pollution, the possibilities are endless with the ultra-playful KTM FREERIDE E-XC.
This latest e-powered machine is part of KTM’s long-term commitment to e-mobility, which began over 10 years ago in KTM’s research and development department in Mattighofen, Austria. The Austrian brand plans a range of machines for the future including e-mini, and an e-scooter, as well as maximizing its partnership with PEXCO with a new possibility to produce crossover products in the bicycle sector. The vision is clear, and by 2025 KTM will increase emphasis on machines from 250 watt to 11kWh due to market suitability and efficiency.
Stefan Pierer (KTM CEO): “We are proud to present the new KTM FREERIDE E-XC, which marks the next step in development of e-mobility within KTM and is a continuation of our commitment to this segment. We know that e-mobility will change the landscape of travel in the future, and our vision is very clear. Looking ahead to 2025 we expect to have a wider range of models available with a focus in the commuting arena. We also plan crossover machines with our collaboration with PEXCO, as well as using our e-mobility expertise in other applications.”
The new KTM FREERIDE E-XC will arrive to the North American market in limited quanities. Please stay tuned for additional information regarding the product’s availability.