Practically no one saw this coming, or were even in the ballpark of predicting it, and I’m interested to see what the motorcycle press will make of it, since I’m sure that some of them, like me, have been aware of this for at least several weeks now, although the news has been embargoed, so no one could report on it.
As of today, the embargo has been lifted, and we are now free to speak about it.
First, the press release from S&T/ATK, makes the bare bones facts available. S&T motorcycles, the Korean manufacturer of the Hyosung brand motorcycles will be working directly with ATK motorcycles, the US manufacturer of dirt bikes. Together they will produce a motorcycle that will be largely produced in Korea by Hyosung and assembled in the USA by ATK. These ATK-badged motorcycles will be smaller displacement motorcycles that will be sold in selected Harley-Davidson dealerships.
Sources close to the deal tell me that ATK may also begin selling their off-road motorcycles in some Harley dealerships as well. It is not yet entirely clear which of the ATK-badged Hyosungs will be made available to the Harley Dealers, although the new 700cc Aquila is a likely candidate.
Sources also tell me that it is possible–although exactly how possible is still unclear–for modified versions of the 250cc and 650cc cruisers and sportbikes, with new bodywork created by ATK, are candidates for those dealers who desire them, to help bring in the younger riders that Harley so desperately needs, as their current rider community is aging rapidly.
This is a coup for both ATK and S&T. ATK now has a chance to substantially increase their penetration into the Harley-Davidson dealer network. S&T has a chance to get deeper into the US Market–which has regarded their products with some suspicion due to confusing Hyosung with a Chinese, rather than South Korean company–by having their bikes branded with an American manufacturer’s badge.
It’s a bit of a coup for Harley dealerships, and possibly for Harley-Davidson itself–as well. They will–or at least selected dealers will–have access to new lines of motorcycles to bring in younger customers. This is especially true if the ATK dirt bikes can also make an appearance on dealer showrooms.
The hope is that everyone can win by making the dealerships places where a number of different product lines can be found, in order to bring in a wider, and one hopes, younger, group of riders through the door.
The full text of the press release is below the fold.