KTM aims to become Europe's No 1 bike maker
At 56, he still likes riding his Enduro 350 cc on his favourite tarmac, which is off the beaten path, or offroading, as enthusiasts of such cross-country riding call it. He also finds time to attend 15 to 20 such races through the year.These days, however, the sights of the CEO of KTM, Europe's second-largest motorbike maker, are trained firmly on the road - particularly those of emerging markets like India.
With good reason. Pierer's goal is to make KTM Europe's No 1 bike maker, a position currently occupied by BMW. The German automaker is headed for sales of roughly 105,000 units in 2012; KTM is expected to come within striking distance with 100,000 units, up from 83,000 in the previous year.Of those 100,000 units, 40,000 are expected to be on-road bikes.
Half of those on-roaders will be made in the factories of domestic partner Bajaj Auto, which is the secondlargest shareholder in KTM with a 47.27% stake.Pierer along with Rudolf Knuenz holds a controlling stake through a holding company. Four years ago, in the wake of the global credit crisis, Pierer realised that his Indian partner could well be key to KTM's survival as sales dropped by almost 30%.
"We needed a strong back-up. And Rajiv Bajaj, managing director of Bajaj Auto, proved to be a great support. He told us not to worry and that Bajaj will stick by KTM," says Pierer, who was in India a few days ago to attend a quarterly board meeting of the joint venture (one of the four quarterly meetings is held in India).