Urban Moto Imports Talks MV Agusta USA | Interview
MV Agusta is a name that needs no introduction. Its motorcycle designs are quintessentially Italian in nature, but more importantly, have captivated riders from all over the globe for decades. MVA has always been about more than just looks – the brand has helped pioneer road racing, inspiring what we now understand as the modern racing machine.
Following financial setbacks here in the United States, this year MV Agusta has announced that it will enlist services of Urban Moto Imports, an Australian outfit, to help bolster the MVA foothold within the US market.
We recently sat down with Joshua Pilley, Urban Moto’s Marketing Manager, to see what steps Urban Moto Imports will take in the United States.
Q. Can you explain what role Urban Moto will play for MV Agusta in the US? And could you provide a brief history about Urban Moto Imports.
Joshua Pilley: Aligning itself with MV Agusta’s ambition, the Urban Motor Group (parent company of Urban Moto Imports) will use a dedicated distribution team to elevate MV Agusta profile in the U.S. and Canada, specifically around new customer engagement, customer service, dealer support and dealership network.
Ideally our approach and robust business model will bring significant growth for the brand in North America, while maintaining the bespoke character of handmade premium performance motorcycles.
Leading the team is Joseph Elasmar, Founder/CEO of Urban Motor Group, who has has 14 years in the motorcycle industry, building the business to now include the distribution of six motorcycle brands through a comprehensive dealer network across Australia and New Zealand. The distribution team have earned the reputation and accolade of being the biggest distributor for MV Agusta and a number of other motorcycle brands.
Joseph and the team have been planning to enter the U.S. market for quite some time. Spending some time here in 2013, Joseph set up a U.S. company, arranged staff, warehousing etc but due to a change in his circumstances had to delay the launch plan. So it has always been part of the overall plan for Joseph and the team and here we are in 2017, after almost a year of discussion, planning, persistence and proven results in other markets, Urban Motor Group has officially acquired MV Agusta USA LLC.
There is a clear need for the USA to be the key market for MV Agusta and in order to achieve this it requires a strong focused team to take it to the level it deserves. The factory has a clear focus on building super premium motorcycles that are superior in technology and design whilst maintaining the hand built in Italy approach which is where we see the competitive edge for those looking for something more in a motorcycle.
We have a clear understanding on what needs to be done in terms of bringing products of distinction to market with a focus on strengthening dealer network, further improving aftersales and offering a unique customer experience which is our key objective for USA. In saying this, the factory has recognized our ability in this area and is now focused on supporting us to deliver just that.
Q. What challenges did you and your team face while developing the MV Agusta name in the Australian market? Are there any similarities between the Aussie motorcycle market and the US motorcycle market?
JP: The challenges could be said to be similar for Australia and the U.S. Working with premium motorcycles requires a different approach to mainstream commuter style motorcycles at both the customer and dealership level. Our experience has taught us that in Australia as it will be in the U.S. that MV Agusta customers need to feel they are buying something exclusive and owning something special.
For many, MV Agusta is an unknown brand which has required us to educate and captivate customers on the brands heritage, craftsmanship, quality, prestigious clients and bench marking in performance motorcycles. Whilst at the dealership level, we know a strong parts and service connection is paramount to building lasting relationships alongside dealership support mechanisms.
Q. Can you go into detail surrounding the recent financial issues that MV Agusta has faced? Are those financial woes stemmed for the time being?
JP: Last year was a bumpy year for MV in terms of cashflow as they went from 30 million Euros to 100 million Euros in just three years. This along with significant increases to operating costs, doubled the workforce and significant expenditure in R&D along with other areas resulted in a cash shortage although were indeed profitable.
With the restructure now behind us the company is more focused than ever before on creating an improved customer experience and are better serving the premium segment of the market for which works so well for the brand.
Q. MV Agusta has had a presence in the US for years, but it could be described as inconsistent. Are there steps that Urban Moto is taking to encourage consumer faith in MV Agusta. If so, can you explain those.
JP: Joseph’s immediate focus is to review and strengthen the existing dealer and service network while also rolling out new service and product training programs so dealers are well informed on all that relates to MV including the new and revised 2017 range, allowing them to best serve the current and future customer base. This along with some marketing activities which will include customer engagement events and demo events are critical in further building on what makes an MV Agusta so special.
There is a clear vision for Joseph and the team that for MV Agusta to succeed overall, it involves much more than just sales in the first instance. If we get the network and customer experience right the sales and growth will naturally follow. We are confident in this for the future, based on the fact that more new models are currently about to go to market and more in the pipeline which is a result of over 80 million Euros being already invested over the past few years in R&D at CRC along with the 40 or so staff employed in this department. We are seeing many updates and some new models about to be released to market which includes the updated 2017 range and Euro 4 platforms.
Q. Is there going to be an expansion in dealer support throughout the US? Can you explain the process in choosing locations for these proposed dealerships, and how will parts distribution work? One of the major complaints from the ’90s was poor parts distribution. Have things changed? And if so, how?
JP: There is a time planned to expand our dealership network, however, right now we will be working to strengthen the current dealership network with proper support mechanisms that will include a leading-edge backend system for parts and service that we developed internally. MV Agusta has in the last six months engaged some of the best suppliers, which in turn has increased the process of delivery and inventory management. We are confident that we will build a very solid platform in part distribution for dealerships and customers to rely on.
6. Following those same lines, what models will MV Agusta be introducing into the US market first, and when can we expect to see them?
JP: This year we will be officially introducing the new Brutale 800 (March), Brutale 800 RR (August) and Turismo Veloce Lusso (April), Turismo Veloce Lusso RC (May) and Dragster 800 RC (May). There will also be the newly updated 2017 F3 675 (August), F3 800 (August), F3 RC (August) and F4 RC (August).
We are expecting to see in EICMA new models release with a promised new engine platform, however, we cannot say anymore.
Q. With this renewed focus on the US market, what are MV Agusta’s plans for updates to their current crop of motorcycles? Does MV Agusta plan on updating their iconic F3/F4 lineup soon?
JP: There are a significant number of upgrades for most 2017 models, with the F3 probably receiving the most. Giovanni Castiglioni recently mentioned that a new F4 is likely to come directly after the release of a new 4-cylinder naked sports bike, which we anticipate will be the new Brutale 1000+ cc 4 cylinder. Once again we are not sure of release dates, however, MV Agusta is focused in revealing new models and special releases in 2017.
Q. Over the next five to 10 years, where do you see MV Agusta going? What models, or hopes would you and your team encourage the Italian manufacturer to do to stay relevant in foreign markets?
JP: We believe MV Agusta will remain true to its heritage by always offering special hand crafted sports motorcycles. As always they are cutting edge in design and technology and we can only imagine that we will continue to see more of this in the future as one would expect from MV Agusta. We would like to see the continuation of unique designs like that of the Dragster RR re-interpreted in the future which we are sure would be the case from MV Agusta.
Q. The RC packages come with some impressive components, but I’m curious about the electronics included in those various bikes. Would US customers, and more specifically, privateer racers be able to purchase those electronic packages individually?
JP: The electronics packages are mostly higher spec as standard across the MV Agusta model range. For instance, the F3 RC carries over the exact same electronics package from the standard F3, along with models such as the Dragster RC and Turismo Veloce RC which all include quickshift, traction control, Bosch 9 Plus ABS along with switchable ride modes and more. Although in the case of the F4 RC there are significant changes to engine, electronics, and suspension along with the many other components. Additionally, All F4 RC’s come fitted with a limited edition build plate and some other extra add on components.
Q. MV Agusta has a long and storied racing history. Would Urban Moto/MV Agusta help support a US-based team that participates in the AMA/FIM MotoAmerica championship?
JP: We have now entered the 2017 Daytona 200 with two F3 675s and hope to continue our involvement as either a factory team or give support to local teams. (Taylor Knapp took top MVA honors with 18th). Racing is definitely part of our business plan and is likely to come into more focus over the next five years.
Q. Where can I seek information on availability in the US as a consumer, and as an interested dealer, where can I find information on how to become an authorized MV Agusta dealer?
JP: All customers are welcome to view MV Agusta motorcycles available in the U.S. by visiting mvagusta.com. From the website, they can also search their closest authorized dealership. For all dealer enquires, the MV Agusta dealership development team can be reached by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. Can I just have a Brutale? I’ll make an Instagram post or something, I promise.
JP: Red, Black or White?