Back in November, I wrote that US dirt-bike maker ATK and Korean conglomerate S&T inked a deal for ATK to assemble ATK-branded street bikes at some select Harley-Davidson dealerships. It’s a dealer-level deal, and has nothing to do with the Motor Company itself, just some dealers put together by ATK’s CEO Frank White.
This week, we get an update, with ATK and S&T formalizing a deal for 33,000 motorcycles over the next four years. The models below are the ATK-assembled and badged bikes whose parts will be brought in from Korea:
There will be two 250cc models, a sportbike and cruiser, and two similar 650cc models.
According to Frank White’s statement in the ATK Press release:
White is quick to explain that The Harley- Davidson Motor Company does not endorse or support this joint venture in any way. White states; “Nevertheless, our new products fit the current Harley-Davidson dealer need and move to offer both the dealer, and more importantly, the retail customer, a complete staircase of V-twin based products, which only acts to complement the current Harley-Davidson product line-up.”
“The approach is simple; get new and younger riders to go into the Harley-Davidson dealerships,” explains White. “We want to capture those customers who are initially looking for a smaller displacement motorcycle, at an affordable price, and then over time these new riders will develop the aspiration for a traditional Harley-Davidson.”
HD may not have any part of this deal, but I’ll bet they’re watching it closely.
ATK CEO Frank White has sent me the following email in regards to the deal that ATK has made to sell American-assembled motorcycles from S&T:
Buon Giorno from EICMA Italy (Motorcycle Show)
One of our Harley Dealers is a regular to your site and suggested I make some comments to the recent posts to set the record straight. I normally avoid BLOG’s however, what the heck, your site seems quite good and your information is factual.
A comment on ATK taking the place of Buell on some BLOGs.
We are NOT working through the H-D Dealer network under the endorsement or support of the Harley Davidson Motor Company in any way. This is stated on the press release.
We are NOT going to be making products in the same market niche/segment that Erik Buell was making. Erik is a Maverick in innovation and development in his part of the industry and we would be fools to try and step in. Obviously with H-D pulling the plug has created a vacuum of opportunity in the network that want American Branded products.
Some of our Dealers sent me the gut wrenching U Tube link with Erik and I feel for the guy. We’ve been in business basically the same amount of time and this is NOT an easy business.
Our focus is going to be attracting an all new and much younger customer into Harley shops with a diverse quality platform of products. (Like Scion is to Toyota) We also want to get more people in the motorcycle world like the industry did so well in the 70′s… This should be interesting
Feel free to post this.
In my previous post, I did append the press release, which does say that this is a deal that Harley knows about, but does not endorse. I also stated:
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.
Let me clarify what I meant here. To the extent that new, younger riders are drawn into Harley dealerships, The MoCo will, if this deal operates successfully, eventually have access to these new dealership customers when they begin looking for large displacement motorcycles. I did not intend to imply that this was part of any strategy on the part of Harley-Davidson. This is something at will operate purely at the dealer level with some select dealers, and any advantages that accrue to the Motor Company will be more or less incidental.
And, of course, implying that HD itself was part of this would imply that HD actually had a strategy. Which, after the MV Agusta deal and the closing down of Buell, is a pretty questionable implication.