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BMW Group Russia to improve motorbikes’ image in Russia

An annual press conference was held by BMW Group Russia in Moscow on February 5, 2008 to announce the results of the company’s performance in 2007 as well as voice the 2008 plans.

President of BMW Group Russia Christian Kremer kindly agreed to answer the questions of Motonews.ru about BMW’s motorcycle business.

- Do you have any plans to develop your motorcycle business in the next few years? As far as we now, it accounts for only 2-2.5 percent of BMW’s sales right now. Would you like to increase this figure in some way? Or may be BMW’s executives consider it sufficient?

In 2007, BMW sold 102,000 motorbikes globally, which was a record for the company. Of course, BMW is not going to stop on that, especially since it is not only a BMW brand to develop but also Husqvarna, which will be actively promoted in the future.

- The BMW brand has been enjoying robust growth on the Russian automobile market lately. Russians love the cars you make. Your sales volumes increase fast. In other words, everything is just fine. And what about motorbikes? According to official data, 420 bikes were sold in Russia in 2007, compared to 320 in 2006, which is like a drop in the ocean. Are you planning on boosting the sales volume? May be there will be any special actions to popularize BMW bikes? Or may be the present sales results are enough, since these are elite bikes, no matter that they account for only 0.41 percent of the global BMW motorcycle sales?

The Russian motorbike market is just waking up at the moment. The total road bike sales volume was under 3,000 in 2007, and the main growth is just coming. A lot still needs to be changed to ensure the bike sales growth similar to what Germany and the UK have right now. BMW works hardly on that. We were the first to launch test drives both for mass media and common bikers. We opened a bike school in St. Petersburg based on the BMW Motorrad program. Master classes are organized for bike fans in Moscow with foreign specialists involved. All these activities help to improve motorbikes’ image in Russia. A very important task now is to go regional even more actively. Motorcycles are common in Moscow and St. Petersburg already. People there understand motorbikes and understand how to use them. And talking about the regions, it remains a habit there to calculate how many used ‘Zhiguli’ cars one bike can buy.
So, we consider BMW’s sales in Moscow successful right now and feel very much confident about the future. Besides, a special thing about BMW Motorrad is its elite attitude to clients. We are not just selling bikes. Our dealerships can offer a wide variety of high quality products and services, including great motorbike tours, seminars, on-road support programs, motorbike accessories and equipment and many other things. New dealerships are to be opened in major cities of Russia. A new BMW dealership was opened in Yekaterinburg in late 2007 on top of already existing ones in Krasnoyarsk, Rostov and Mineralnye Vody. One dealership also appeared in St. Petersburg. Two more BMW dealerships are to appear in Russian regional centers this year. There will be news for Muscovites too. All our dealerships comply with BMW Motorrad standards, follow common pricing policies, as well as provide warranty maintenance in any dealership, no matter where a bike was purchased.

- Do you have BMW motorbike production elsewhere outside Germany?

Yes. G650X bikes are produced at the Aprilia plant in Italy. Engines for BMW F Series are manufactured by ROTAX in Austria.

- Will you say a few words about the global motorcycle market and BMW’s role on it?

Like with automobiles, the global motorcycle market is now on the verge of big changes. This has to do with a number of factors. First all, it is fuel. The more fuel prices rise, the more attention will be paid to the ergonomy of engines without their power being affected. BMW has been long looking for a solution here and has come up with one of the most efficient engines on the market.

Secondly, it is environment. More and more people are feeling worried about their own safety and security in this world. For this very reason, civilized countries almost completely forgot about motorbikes of the 1970s with loud engine roars and smoke, and there are not many of those still feeling nostalgic about good old times.

A modern bike is powerful, fast and almost noise-free liner with impressive reliability potential, equipped with cutting-edge active and passive safety systems and environmentally friendly. With all this in mind, BMW does active research and can now offer ASC and ESA systems and many other things which are new and unique to the market, in addition to the already mandatory ABS system.

Thirdly, it is something that is set to have a significant impact on the bike’s design. It is the development of digital technology. Both automobiles and bikes are turning from a mechanical into an electronic device. Here BMW is a market leader as it has been doing digital control research for more than 20 years already.

Historically speaking, BMW’s role has always been to be on the edge of technical progress and popularize it. A telescopic fork, full-face fairing, ABS system, electronic fuel injection, Paralever and Duolever suspensions, ASC system, and digital pipe electronic control is way not all the novelties BMW is using to manufacture its motorbikes. I can assure you, bikers can expect plenty of new interesting ideas from BMW in the future.

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