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MD’s European Correspondent Interviews BMW Motorrad Director

Our European correspondent Tor Sagen recently had an opportunity to put a few questions to Dr. Herbert Diess, Director of BMW Motorrad. Tor isn’t shy – as you can see from his blunt interrogation of Dr. Diess.

Tor: In a recent interview with MCN you mentioned that 2007 would be the year of the 800cc. As far as I understand, this involves two new models based on the F800 and an 800cc MotoGP prototype. Am I correct in saying this and can you elaborate please?

Dr. Diess: Yes, two more F 800 models are planned. There will definitely be no MotoGP prototype – that is MCN speculation without any basis in fact.

Tor: Regarding the rumoured ‘F800R’ – Are you considering such a bike, and will it be an F800S with a tuned engine and styling with cues from the K1200R?

Dr. Diess: Yes, we’re looking into it. At the moment we don’t wish to say anything else about the engine and the design.

Tor: Will there be an 800cc replacement for the F650GS?

Dr. Diess: We can certainly imagine a F800 GS. The F 650 GS will still be in our sales range in 2007.

Tor: Is there an 800cc MotoGP prototype under development and where do you want BMW Motorrad to go with it? If there is such a MotoGP prototype, when will BMW race it? What is the schedule of the project, what sort of engine do you believe in and will we see ground braking BMW technologies in use on this prototype?

Dr. Diess: As mentioned before, BMW Motorrad is not developing any MotoGP prototypes.

Tor: There has been talk about the Aprilia co-operation on a possible new offroad motorcycle. Does this involve Aprilia’s knowledge on small displacement V-twin engines from the RXV series? What is the benefit for BMW Motorrad in this co-operation?

Dr. Diess: The co-operation gives us attractive opportunities in smaller market segments which we should like to make use of.

Tor: Where will you go next with the new and powerful K series motorcycles? Do you wish for the K1200S to compete directly with the Japanese hyper sports tourers and are you willing to launch an in-line four cylinder engine that actually equals or exceeds in pure engine performance that of the ZZR1400 and GSX1300R?

Dr. Diess: At the moment the K series is complete. The K 1200 S currently remains the top model in terms of engine performance.

Tor: The R series has been extremely successful for BMW where the GS in particular has sold well. The R1200GS is now the benchmark everyone else is looking up to and we expect many manufacturers to launch fresh attacks on the GS already next year. How have you planned to stay on top of this? In the future, will you make it lighter, more powerful, more user friendly, different style, even more road biased or elsewhere?

Dr. Diess: We will of course develop the GS further and we believe strongly that the GS with its unique conception will maintain its outstanding position – and even improve on it.

Tor: As a journalist I have with delight noticed how BMW in recent years has become more sports oriented, while at the same time you have continued producing the traditional models so many people love. Will you in the future launch High Power versions of all your models? For instance, could we see a K1200S HP, R1200S HP, F800S HP and so on in the future? If not, what is the plan?

Dr. Diess: We can imagine another HP model in the future. But initially we will be concentrating on the 2-cylinder flat twin.

Tor: BMW Motorrad is now firmly placed as Europe’s number one motorcycle manufacturer. I can see from your actions and new motorcycle launches how you are staying on top now. How have you planned to remain Europe’s number one and continue growth? Aprilia for instance will launch 20 new motorcycle models in the next few years and Triumph is growing steadily. Can you in public say that you are now competing head on with the Japanese manufacturers? How important are US sales for BMW Motorrad? How have you planned to tackle the new market opening in China?

Dr. Diess: Since the beginning of 2005 we have put out 9 new models. Others will follow. In this way we believe we can further enhance our position.

Many of our models are in direct competition with the Japanese. We have won a lot of the comparative tests. In some segments such as enduro and touring bike segments, BMW Motorrad is the world market leader. So we believe we have what it takes.

There is more sales potential in the US market. But when you look at sales figures there, you have to remember that we are not represented in the two biggest US segments – super sports bikes and cruisers. In China we only see limited market opportunities for our models at the moment. We will have to wait and see how the market there develops.