Stephan Schaller, the head of BMW’s motorcycle division, has a big advantage over his counterparts in the automobile division: He can have BMW Motorcycles’ products set up in his office. The prototype of the company’s current top seller, the R nineT, is there along with a restored R42 built in 1928 that stands in front of his desk.
Handelsblatt: Because of the large percentage of older riders, the motorcycle market has been seen as problematic for years. How do you intend to address this challenge?
Schaller: It’s one of the great challenges for all manufacturers. The market for bikes with engines bigger than 500cc has declined dramatically since 2009. Worldwide sales have decreased by almost half, from 1.5 million to 800,000 units today. Still, BMW Motorcycles has doubled its market share.
In addition to having a strong distribution network, it’s a question of the right model policy. As the brand becomes sportier, we are increasingly appealing to younger riders with our new models, and as a result we have been able to significantly lower the average buyer’s age.
You were able to build small motorcycles to appeal to younger customers.
Some 115 million two-wheelers are produced each year worldwide. The market for bikes bigger than 500cc, in which we are currently operating, is only about 800,000 units. Of that number, we produced 115,000 last year, and we intend to increase our market share this year – not an easy task in this segment. That’s why we want to expand our range into the market for bikes smaller than 500cc. In doing so, we are growing our total market from 800,000 to 2-3 million units.