Michael Lock: Ducati to Think EV

Ducati to EV

Michael Lock, who recently departed his CEO post at Ducati North America, has taken over as the Chief Marketing Officer for Think, a Norwegian electric vehicle manufacturer, soon to start selling plug-in zero-emission electric cars in the U.S.

Lock, prior to Ducati North America, held senior positions at Triumph and Honda. Lock is widely respected as an industry expert in brand, marketing and communication and has an impressive track record developing premium brands in new markets.

Michael Lock, motorcycle enthusiast, recently spoke with Susan Carpenter at the LA Times. He spoke about his new job but of more interest was his view on the state of a still struggling the U.S. motorcycle market.

Michael Lock said: “Speaking to some people in the (motorcycle) industry last week, September was minus 39%, which was pretty tragic considering September last year was a disaster. So I know the trend is not upward and it’s not slowing down. The industry is still contracting at quite a pronounced rate.”

“The fall from grace of Harley-Davidson. It was going to happen in some form or another independent of the economic slowdown. Harley was bound to hit a demographic brick wall between 2005 and 2010 because they’d been so completely associated with baby boomers as a buying generation, but their buying power for motorcycles has peaked.”

“Their 401ks and real estate values have been decimated. Harley is such a dominant volume force in the U.S. that it has a disproportionate effect on the market. A motorcycle is a status symbol. It’s a discretionary purchase. You buy it. You feel good about life.”

“Where Harley goes in the U.S., the rest of the industry has to follow in many respects. The shadow Harley casts over the rest of the industry is undeniable and their age demographic issue along with general economic conditions was a perfect storm,” explained the former Ducati boss.

“Credit scoring got tighter, interest rates went up and the amount dealers could earn on a loan all got squeezed. Sportbike riders are younger, have worse credit scores, shorter credit histories. They found it impossible to borrow money at a reasonable rate. That’s more true for the Japanese brands than the Europeans. After Harley-Davidson, it’s the Japanese that supply most volume for the market, so you’ve got a separate problem.”

“We’re now at industry levels of sales below what they were 10 years ago, and 10 years ago the motorcycle industry looked a lot different than it does today.”

“Maybe motorcycling has to go back to being a simpler pursuit rather than the whole posing thing and all the race replicas. It has to go back to being a simpler pleasure.”

Michale Lock is now onto greener pastures. Think is a European pioneer in electric vehicles and a leader in electric vehicle technology, developed and proven over 20 years.

Think already has nearly 10,000 electric vehicles on the road and more than 56 million kilometers (35 million miles) of customer experience.

The Think City, the first EV to be granted pan European regulatory safety approval, is sold across Europe, with sales and production about to start in the U.S. and operations being developed in Asia.

Think, the world’s leading dedicated electric vehicle manufacturer, announces the production of the 2,500th unit of the Think City pure electric vehicle, designed for urban use.

“This milestone event further solidifies the Think City as the best-selling electric car in the world today,” commented Think CEO Barry Engle.

The City came off the assembly line on Oct. 11th at Oslo-based production facility in Europe, where the electric vehicle has been fully highway safety certified since 1999.

The company, with Michael Lock’s help, has begun preparations to build the sturdy and reliable two-seat commuter at a plant in the American heartland in Elkhart, Indiana and plans to launch fleet and retail sales in December.

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One of the few moto journalists based on the East Coast, Ron Lieback joined the motorcycle industry as a freelancer in 2007 and is currently Editor at Large at Ultimate Motorcycling. He is also the author of 365 to Vision: Modern Writer's Guide (How to Produce More Quality Writing in Less Time).