SWM Motorcycle Resurrection
Chinese motorcycle companies are interested in buying and resurrecting motorcycle brands from yesteryear.
Chongqing off-road specialist Shineray recently had purchased the famous 1970s Italian off-road brand SWM (Speedy Working Motors), which is producing models such as the Silver Vase, Gran Turismo 440, and the SM450 supermoto.
This takeover was announced at EICMA Milan in November. Mr. Bin Zhang, Vice General Manager of the Shineray Group, is in charge of the acquisition of SWM and answered some questions for us:
Q. What does the SWM brand means for the European market and how is Shineray is related with this brand?
A. SWM stands for Speedy Working Motors. This brand comes with a long tradition and high reputation for manufacturing Enduro, Motocross, and trial bikes in the early ’70s in Italy.
At that time (the 1970s) SWM had a reputation for quality and stylish street and off-road bikes which was at the same level as the likes of KTM. Since their first appearance, SWM have been outstanding in their racing competitiveness that achieved many prestigious successes in off-road competitions for years.
Shineray bought SWM (who stopped producing in 1983) in order to rejuvenate the company and recreate the same vision and the same passion for building high quality motorcycles with an Italian soul, in a state of the art headquarters and with the support of an experienced technical staff nurtured in a territory rich in motorcycle history and driven by a great motivation.
Shineray have also purchased a factory, which includes the technology and products from Husqvarna. This Husqvarna factory used to belong to the BMW Group before its acquisition a few years ago by the KTM Group, who decided to stop the operations in Italy. As a result, we acquired the technology for 10 KTM models.
Combining this factory, (strategically located in Lombardia) with SWM Motorcycles as a new Italian motorcycle Company inspired by the past, originated from the passion and the technical and industrial competence of Ampelio Macchi, who people know due to prestigious brands such as Cagiva, Husqvarna, and Aprilia
Q. What is the brand strategy behind the acquisition of SWM compared to the position of Shineray on the market?
A. The products designed and manufactured with SWM represent the high-level product line, while the Shineray products manufactured in China are the middle and lower price motorcycles segments.
We will divide the strategy in two independent lines. In Europe, we always will use our SWM brand, designing and commercializing in there. But in China, South America, Asia, and Africa, because they are significantly different markets and need quite different models, we can design models with the support of SWM Centro-style for the Shineray R&D center in China, to improve the quality and ability.
Starting from 2016 we will enter the Europe Motocross Championship and our target is to use our models and designs to restore the reputation that SWM achieved in the old days.
Q. How does the SWM production line distribution plan work (in terms of sales networks), and which target customers are you focusing on?
A. The SWM range will be distributed through a new and widespread international sales network, taking advantage of the team that used to belong to Husqvarna who have all the know-how to handle the European market and the old SWM and Husqvarna commercial network.
We are going to use our advantages by producing the parts in China to lower down the cost then send the parts to Italy to be assembled, in this way we can sell the product in a lower price range than the likes of KTM.
This project is going to allow the end buyers to pay between 70- and 80-percent of the KTM price, but offers same performance characteristics.
The SWM Motorcycle will come back on the market by introducing six street and off-road bikes (including bikes above) with engine sizes between 300 and 650 cc, with similar advanced features such as the double overhead cam engine, fuel injection and Euro 3 homologation.
This is the starting point of a wider global project, which will see in the near future the production of 125cc engine bikes produced aftermarket research to satisfy a young audience; we will also be producing other specific motocross and endurance competition bikes. More high impact models will be added to the SWM range in the future.
Q. What’s the SWM Centro-style planning direction of the product lines?
A. The R&D plan follows former developments from the Husqvarna team, they currently consist of the Enduro and Retro Series, but in the future, we will be releasing new series’ like Racing, Street and Adventure bikes.
SWM Motorcycles maybe freshly resurrected, but it displays the know-how of a big and established Company, founded on a good team of skilled technicians that allows the company to follow and manage any aspect of the motorcycle creation directly from inside the Italian headquarters.
From engine to chassis, from electronics to style: everything is designed internally with careful precision and the taste and experience of experienced Italian workers. With 360° know-how, that starts from design and goes to research, development, product tests, quality control, production, distribution.
Design is undertaken with a deep commitment inside own the company Centrostile which is furnished with advanced hardware and software instruments to explore the newest style concepts and to develop every step ‘in house’. Sketching and painting, CAS molding, hard and clay molding, 3D printers, wood modeling machines allow us to manage by self-sufficiency all the steps from the initial drawing to the definitive maquette.
The exclusive design of the new SWM’s is clean, flowing, functional and light. It gets inspiration from the deep brand tradition and by those original stylish solutions that made the brand famous in the past. For example, the Silver Vase model, icon of the Seventies, is equipped with the typical trapezoidal tank restyled in modern key on the new range. Particular care was dedicated to the color choice, graphic design and the research of specific materials, with the goal of creating a connection with the traditional models maintaining a pleasant and modern “family feeling”.
Q. What’s the actual engine production situation and please tell us about future developments?
A. All the engines included in the actual product line were developed by former Husqvarna R&D. Right now the biggest displacement is 650cc. In the future, we are going to develop engines with displacements up to 900cc, including multi-cylinder engines. In the actual product line, we have engines with 440cc. In approximately 18 months, the first stage of the engines development are going to be finished
We will launch the new products one at a time from July 2015 to February 2016, starting with the 300cc, then 450cc, 510cc, 650cc. In May 2016, we will launch a new 125 cc, in 2018 the 900cc will be finished. In August 2016, we will release a performance 250cc.