Motorcycle.com

KTM North America decided to let us know they would be live streaming the global launch of the 2018 KTM Freeride E-XC and the company’s vision of E-Mobility as a whole from Austria at about the same time I was searching for a topic for this week’s Top 10 list. Thankfully, the presentation was full of interesting information that I shall now parse out for you in 10 easy-to-read slides. Grab yourself a cold Steigl and enjoy.

For the 2018 model year, KTM has tried to address some of customers biggest apprehensions when considering electric motorcycles while also opting to not to rest on their laurels and continue to advance the Freeride E platform we have seen previously.

For 2018 the KTM Freeride E-XC’s PowerPack has been upgraded with an increase in capacity from last year’s 2.6kWh to a new max of 3.9kWh. KTM’s Product Marketing Manager from Austria mentioned that the new battery, which will fit into previous generations of Electric Freerides, extended his ride time near his home in the woods from one hour to 90 minutes. Also interesting is the motorcycle’s ability to regenerate charging while coasting in the least aggressive (Eco) ride mode to allow the user more time on the trail. A reworked, lightweight chassis fitted with new, higher performing WP Xplor suspension front and rear has been added to give the Freeride more performance-oriented usability. We also see an increase in peak power from 16kW to 18kW, which translates to 24.5 hp; the near-instantaneous 31 lb-ft of torque remains the same.

2017 KTM Freeride E-XC First Ride Review

Customers now have an option of leasing the battery and charging system for 50 euro ($58.98) per month, which seems to be a great idea given the rapid technological advancement in battery technologies. The 2018 Freeride E-XC is priced at 7,500 euro which puts the motorcycle on par with its I.C.E. Freeride 250. However, that price doesn’t include the cost of the battery and charger, which retails for 4000 euro. KTM’s main goal is to remove all of the negatives traditionally associated with electric motorcycles and level the playing field as much as possible in terms of price, weight, and practicality.

While the new Freeride E-XC is nearing production, no official announcement has been made about its availability in the U.S.

KTM has reported 3,000 Electric Freeride units sold world-wide, which gives the Austrian company an 80% market share, according to Chief Sales Officer, Hubert Trunkenpolz. Which also makes the Freeride E-XC the top-selling electric off-road motorcycle in the world.

2017 is lining up to be another record year for the Austrian firm, with sales projected of 1.5-billion euro and estimated unit sales over 230,000. Due to positive growth over the last several years, KTM plans to reach 400,000 units sold by 2022 and is said to currently have the infrastructure in place to do so, according to KTM CEO and Chairman of the Executive Board of KTM AG, Stefan Pierer, pictured above.

Along with KTM’s growth over the last few years, CEO Stefan Pierer announced that the company has recently added 500 jobs to bring KTM’s global workforce to 5600 employees. Some 4200 of those are based in Austria. I hear Mattighofen is beautiful this time of year.

KTM is forecasting double-digit sales increases in nearly every market in which they are present. The company says it is seeing sustainable growth in Europe, North America, and Latin America, with forecasted 11%, 14%, and 20% growth, respectively. Surprisingly, or maybe not so much to some, KTM is projecting 32% growth in Asia and expects the Asian market to be its biggest growth opportunity moving into the future.

Here’s a little known fact in the USA: KTM has been making bicycles at the Mattighofen facilities since 1964, and it currently cranks out about 300,000 of them annually. KTM has more recently made a push to into the North American market. Check them out here.

“E-mobility will change the landscape of travel in the future,” proclaims Stefan Pierer. This is only the beginning. KTM’s vision of E-mobility began with electric mountain bikes and electric offroad motorcycles in 2007. With issues finding suppliers, KTM would make nearly everything itself, causing the development process to take longer than normal. Pierer has stated that its investment into these technologies at the time was approximately 20 million euro. A large sum for the somewhat smaller company back then.

“The electric mobility, in the future, takes place in the powered two-wheel world,” says Pierer. “More than two-thirds of new bike sales are done in electric bikes.” This is where we will see KTM focusing its electric technology development in the future. Also to note from the presentation on Wednesday, KTM will likely be doing away with smaller 50cc youth I.C.E. motorcycles and replace them with full electric models, which may be called E-mini or E-SX.  

KTM sees E-bikes becoming a major part of future in E-mobility. While it has made clear KTM will be focusing efforts on electric mountain bikes and electric offroad motorcycles, its overall goal is to bridge the gap between the two. Stefan Pierer mentions KTM plans to do this within the next decade. While the picture above was created by our own photoshop wizards, we could imagine a similar mash-up of E-Bike and E-Freeride.

Chief Sales Officer, Hubert Trunkenpolz, made some comments that may be undoubtedly true but also may make some current dealers wary.

“The channels have to change. The distribution channels have to change,” says Trunkenpolz. “I am 100% sure that the classic dealership, the point of sale, will change into a point of experience. The classic style of dealership will look different in the future.”

When speaking of Tesla, Trunkenpolz continues to explain his expectations of the future.

“The way of distribution is an interesting one and I can absolutely imagine that we will have these few electric mobility dealers having the full range 250w to 11kW, the lightweight E-mobility range and nothing else so they are specialized on that and cover the needs of the market. This is something that will come and I expect to happen.”

CEO Stefan Pierer doesn’t think the combustion engine will disappear in the next 20-30 years, but rather, we will see a hybrid in motorcycling of combustion and electric.

“In my opinion, the bridge technology over the next decade will be the hybrid,” says Pierer, acknowledging that KTM understands the trend will be consumer-driven.

“I think, for sure, the road is not black or white,” says CSO Hubert Trunkenpolz. “It will depend on the user, it will depend on his or her priorities, and I think the market will steer it by itself, but I fully agree the kind of hybrid engine will be the solution for longer distance traveling. Emissions are a matter and we have to bring emissions down, this is our job to do, but as I said, this is not black or white.”