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KTM announces joint venture with Gas Gas | News

KTM continues to build its portfolio of motorcycle brands, with the Austrian giant acquiring a controlling interest in Spanish brand Gas Gas.

The deal will see the two companies collaborate on a number of new models, including electric-powered motorcycles and a solid four-stroke range.

It is understood KTM Industries AG, which is to be rebranded as Pierer Mobility, bought the 40 per cent share of Gas Gas held by Torrot co-founders Ivan Contreras and Rafael Contreras and a further 20 per cent from Black Toro Capital to give it control of the Catalonian company. Black Toro retains 40 per cent and appears to have insisted on retaining local production in the wake of what happened when Kato bought Husqvarna.

Gas Gas will benefit from KTM’s advanced engineering knowledge and extensive distribution network, meaning we could see Euro 5-compliant four-stroke Gassers sold alongside KTMs and Husqvarnas. KTM Industries owner Stefan Pierer seems to have chased the deal to speed up the development of KTM and Husky electric bikes using Torrot’s electric mobility technology. Gas Gas and Torrot bikes will continue to be manufactured in Spain, with Black Toro Capital’s statement saying: “The joint venture will increase the workload of the Girona production plant which will remain owned by the current proprietor.

“This agreement will allow the expansion of the Gas Gas product portfolio into different segments, engine capacities and models. The main new models will be four-stroke and electric motorcycles (including children’s bikes) as well as electric bicycles.”

It is no secret that Gas Gas has had a troubled recent financial history. The manufacturer filed for bankruptcy in mid-2015 and was saved by a 13 million Euro investment from Torrot. But product development for new models like the EC Ranger continued to be delayed and there were hints of a renewed financial struggle with the scaling back of staff at the Girona plant.

KTM first showed interest in Gas Gas during its 2015 troubles but an Austrian visit was met with hostility from assembly workers in the wake of Pierer’s decision to shut Husky’s Italian plant and move production to Mattighofen. They were greeted with a pile of burning tyres and a mannequin dressed in a KTM shirt (above) hanging from a rope with a sign reading: “This is not your home.”

That was the last time we heard KTM and Gas Gas mentioned in the same sentence until October, when KTM Industries announced this joint venture. Kato plans to launch a range of high-performance electric road bikes by 2022 in conjunction with its Indian partner Bajaj Auto so it has some catching up to do.

KTM wasn’t the only company trying to suck up Gas Gas, with Sherco also in the running – information revealed to ADB by Sherco’s Thomas Teissier at the MY20 Sherco international press launch recently.

It’s too early to know what impact the acquisition of Gas Gas will have on the current two-stroke enduro range offered by the Spaniards.

Given KTM owns WP Suspension, it would be no surprise to see the brilliant KYB suspension disappear (and reappear on Betas?) and Kato TPI engines with their built-in starter motors come in.

Kato-branded Gas Gas trials bikes could also make an appearance but that’s not a big market segment and barely fits in with the Austrians’ Ready to Race slogan.