The American motorcycle company death of the week
We are 26 days into the new year and I’ve already written about two motorcycle companies ceasing operations. If the closure of Victory came as a bit of a shock, the shuttering (again) of Erik Buell Racing felt more like a mere formality, a begrudging recognition of the inevitable.
EBR issued a statement today saying it will wind down operations next week. It’s short (there’s really not much to say), so here it is in its entirely:
EBR Motorcycles, LLC (“EBR”) located in East Troy, Wisconsin will begin a wind down of production operations commencing next week. EBR will continue to honor warranties and provide technical and parts support to current dealers and riders who bought motorcycles manufactured by EBR. EBR will continue to review strategic alternatives with interested investors regarding production operations.
The decision was a tough one for EBR as it has been solely focused on the growth and building EBR for success. The team at EBR has worked tirelessly making every effort to build the company. There is no fault on any of the team at EBR for this decision. They and their families have our deepest gratitude for their efforts and dedication to EBR. This difficult decision was based primarily on EBR facing significant headwinds with signing new dealers, which is key to sales and growth for a new company. In addition, EBR has had limited production in 2016 and 2017 that was under goal. The combination of slow sales and industry announcements of other major OEM brands closing or cutting production only magnified the challenges faced by EBR.
The limited production of remaining 2017 and 2016 EBR motorcycles are currently available from EBR’s top dealers. For a list of top dealers, please go to www.EBR.com.
A sale of production equipment and excess parts will start in March.
Sales of Buells had dwindled to a level so small they were not even a blip on the stat sheet of the greatly diminished U.S. motorcycle industry. After a year of effort, Buell had barely signed up more than a dozen dealers.
Erik Buell benefited from a lot of friendships and support in the industry. He got a lot of positive press. He had a loyal and enthusiastic work force. With all that, he still couldn’t make a go of it and that says a lot about the state of the motorcycle industry in the United States in 2017.
Victory is gone, Buell is gone. While it’s not the motorcycle industry, it is the powersports business, and it’s worth nothing that Arctic Cat was also bought out today. In general, people are looking over their shoulders, wondering who will be next. You can only go for so long with sales languishing at half of where they were a decade ago before executives start shutting the factory doors for good.
I don’t expect this is the last seismic shift we will see in the motorcycle industry in 2017.