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Top executives of Irbit Motorcycle Works speak on EICMA 2012 and upcoming changes in Ural bikes

In an exclusive interview, General Director of Irbit Motorcycle Works (IMZ) Ilya Khait shares his impressions from the International Motorcycle Exhibition EICMA 2012 with Motonews.ru, and IMZ Executive Director Vladimir Kurmachev fills us in on what lies ahead for Russian Ural motorcycles in 2013.

Ilya, could you share your impressions from the International Motorcycle Exhibition EICMA 2012? Did it meet your expectations? What did you like most about it, or what actually came as the biggest surprise?
I was really impressed by the BMW stand. The uncontested leader in the industry, BMW once again reaffirmed its dominant position in Milan.
Also, I really like what Honda is doing in the segment of bikes with small and medium cubic capacity. And the Ducati stand was quite exciting, too.
As far as most other producers go, their lack of imagination was a very unpleasant surprise for me. For instance, almost everyone now has Dual Sport models. Although it really seems to be almost the only motorcycle segment that is still showing signs of life, that is to say, the only segment that has still been expanding, there is clearly not enough room there for a dozen producers. Similarly, the Classic bike niche is on the rise again, and so everyone rushed to fill it. Generally speaking, I got a very strong impression that our industry can do without two or three producers: They have become so alike that the market would never even notice if they’d dropped out.

I see your point. Did you establish any new useful business contacts for the Ural brand at the EICMA exhibition?
Yes, we had very fruitful discussions with a number of component part producers. Hopefully these new contacts will translate into concrete practical results in the future.

Vladimir, what new features can we expect in the near future, and when?
Starting in 2013, we will be using new clutch discs produced in Europe with the use of cutting edge friction materials. Furthermore, we have plans to introduce quite a few other small changes next year!

Irbit Motorcycle Works LLC dates back to February 2001, when it was set up based on the Irbit Motorcycle Works JSC. The plant produces motorcycles under the Ural brand and exports them to Canada, Japan, South Korea, the United States, Australia, South Africa and Europe.
Irbit Motorcycle Works (IMZ-Ural OJSC) is based in the town of Irbit in the Sverdlovsk region. It was registered as an open joint-stock company in May 2000, and has a share capital of 280 million rubles. Meanwhile, the plant itself dates back to 1941, when it was relocated to Irbit from Moscow after World War II broke out. In 1950, IMZ produced its 30,000th bike. In 1953, Irbit motorcycles found an export market, mainly developing countries and Eastern Europe, where they were most often used to meet the needs of the armed forces or law enforcement agencies. In May 1967, the 500,000th bike rolled off the IMZ line, and in April 1975, the plant produced its 1,000,000th motorcycle. In October 1993, the number of bikes topped 3,000,000.
In the United States, Ural motorcycles are sold via a dealership network of almost 60 dealers. In 2012-2013, IMZ plans to almost double its dealership network and raise the total number of dealers to 100 or even 110. On the U.S. market, IMZ sells 5 sidecar motorcycle models with the recommended retail price ranging from $10,000 to $14,000.

Photo: IMZ Executive Director Vladimir Kurmachev riding a Ural bike, with IMZ General Director Ilya Khait in the sidecar.

Photo by: Motonews.ru

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