Italy's motorcycle industry is going through times of change, some more painful than others. First, Ducati CEO Gabriele Del Torchio left Borgo Panigale to rescue Alitalia airlines, with Claudio Domenicali named as his able successor. It was a surprise that it happened so quickly and with almost no warning, but was hardly painful, as Domenicali is respected for his work at Ducati. Now, KTM-owned Husqvarna is packing its bags and moving to Austria, a painful change, indeed, for the country's motorcycle industry.
Former Husqvarna PR man Martino Bianchi confirmed that the factory near Varese will be shut down this month and production transferred to one of the KTM factories in Austria. This is a below-the-waistline blow to the economy of the region. Local politicians have not stepped in to prevent the move that KTM's parent company, Pierer Industrie AG, promised would never happen.
Despite its storied past, Husqvarna never lived a particularly productive life after moving from Sweden to Italy following its acquisition in 1987 by the Castiglioni brothers-owned Cagiva Group. Things really went down the drain after BMW acquired Husqvarna six years ago. In fact, during the past three years, Husqvarna accumulated losses of 200 million euros.