BMW gets out of the dirt, sells Husqvarna brand


German car and motorcycle maker BMW announced Thursday morning that it has sold the famed Husqvarna brand, abandoning the 110-year-old Swedish dirt-bike manufacturer in order to focus more energy on building up its share of the fast-growing scooter market.

“In the context of changing motorcycle markets, demographic trends and increasing environmental demands, BMW Motorrad will expand its product offering to exploit future growth potential,” the company said in a statement. “The focus of the realignment will be on urban mobility and e-mobility.”

The historic Husky brand was once home to the biggest names in world off-road racing. Riders Torsten Hallman, Bengt Aberg, J.N. Roberts and Malcolm Smith dominated motocross and desert racing in the 1960s and ‘70s and helped make both forms of riding into viable American sports. The company, which had started life in 1689 as an arms maker for the Swedish crown and began selling motorcycles in 1903, also went on to rule Enduro racing from 1990 to 2010 and became a dominant force in the Supermoto category.


The new owner is Pierer Industrie AG of Austria, as in Stephan Pierer -- chief executive of rival brand KTM, which unlike Husqvarna during the BMW period has enjoyed huge success in the off-road world.

Both sides agreed to keep private the terms of their deal, including the purchase price.

The sale of Husky marks the end of a five-year experiment by BMW, which purchased the company from the owners of MV Augusta brand, which had acquired the line when it bought Italian motorcycle company Cagiva, which in turn had taken charge of Husqvarna decades earlier.

Does it mean BMW is out of the dirt bike business? The company is still bullish on its GS series, which from the G650 to the R1200 models have off-road capability, and BMW did field a well-reviewed enduro bike, the G450 X, in 2009. But for now, it appears to be leaving the motocross business behind.


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