When BMW sold Husqvarna after a very short period of ownership, it shocked many industry observers. It turns out that BMW had made a decision to abandon any focus on off-road motorcycles as part of “realigning its BMW Motorrad business.” Most importantly, it made the following statement at the time: “The focus of the realignment will be on urban mobility and e-mobility.” Apparently, this is where BMW sees its greatest growth in market share and profits.
Just two days ago, BMW issued a press release (re-printed below) announcing that its factory support of a WSB team would end with this 2013 season. Interestingly, it used similar language in describing this move when it stated: “BMW Motorrad is continuing its long-term strategic realignment of the brand. This strategy also affects BMW Motorrad Motorsport’s activities, which as a next step will also be restructured.”
Of course, BMW has built a fine superbike in the S1000RR (the HP4 limited edition is pictured above), But is it really committed to this segment of the market long term? Large displacement sportbike sales are down in most markets, and BMW has even agreed to supply Bimota with S1000RR engines for the BB2 (pictured below). One has to wonder whether the WSB announcement could signal a shift almost as sudden as the departure of Husqvarna from BMW ownership. Here is the press release:
BMW Motorrad continues its strategic realignment in motorsport. With effect from the end of the 2013 season, BMW Motorrad will terminate its commitment in the FIM Superbike World Championship in order to strengthen the customer sports programme. Munich, 24th July 2013. BMW Motorrad is continuing its long-term strategic realignment of the brand. This strategy also affects BMW Motorrad Motorsport’s activities, which as a next step will also be restructured. At the end of the 2013 season, BMW Motorrad Motorsport will terminate its factory involvement in the FIM Superbike World Championship. The main focus and some of the resources of BMW Motorrad’s commitment to sport will switch to other motorsport activities like the successful international customer sports programme from 2014 on.
“BMW Motorrad Motorsport will end its involvement in the World Superbike Championship after this season”, explained Stephan Schaller, General Director BMW Motorrad. “This is consistent with the strategic realignment of our brand. BMW Motorrad will now focus on the further expansion of the very successful product portfolio over 500 cc, the expansion of product segments under 500 cc, e-mobility and the development of market potential in emerging economies like Brazil and Asia. Only those who act consistently today are well prepared for the challenges of tomorrow. BMW Motorrad will remain involved in motorsport and in doing so we will focus on the international customer sport in all its facets. I want to thank everybody who has supported us on this long and successful journey.”
“The team is a very professional and motivated group of people and I am sure they will continue to do everything to end the season on a high note”, commented Andrea Buzzoni, General Manager BMW Motorrad WSBK. “Twenty thirteen is a good year, the atmosphere within the team is great and also our riders, Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies, are doing an excellent job. We are satisfied with the current results and, of course, we will keep working hard. Therefore I am convinced we can celebrate more successes with Marco and Chaz as the season goes on. I am sorry about the decision, but I understand the strategic decision making of the company. I want to thank all the people who are involved in this project.”
BMW Motorrad Motorsport has run a successful worldwide customer sport programme for several years. From the beginning, customer teams and riders have celebrated numerous victories and titles in international and national championships with the BMW S 1000 RR. From the start of this season, some of them have also fielded the brand new DDC equipped BMW HP4, and celebrated several race wins. Details of the increased future commitment in customer sport will be announced in due course.
BMW Motorrad Motorsport entered the FIM Superbike World Championship in 2009. After a learning phase, it has established itself of a winning team in this highly contested series. To date, the German manufacturer has celebrated 11 race wins and a total of 33 podium finishes with the race version of the BMW S 1000 RR. The most successful season so far was 2012, when BMW finished runner-up in the manufacturers’ classification and fought for both the manufacturers’ and the riders’ titles until the very last race.