The HDT Diesel KLR Motorcycle: Possible Sales & Marketing Strategies.

The Diesel KLR under test.

Necessity is, without doubt, the mother of Invention. From the year dot mankind has encountered all manner of problems and has proved himself most ingenious at finding solutions. Nowadays, while the Private sector works tirelessly on for itself and the Commercial sector forever looks out for new ways to make a profit, it’s the job of those at the top of the tree to find solutions to things that threaten us all.
 Survival is the ultimate necessity and this is why the worlds defence industries are at the cutting edge of development. Where they tread, we follow and the strategies laid down by the planners for the armed forces will almost always ultimately be taken up and used by the masses. One thinks of the Autobahns and Interstate highways laid down to allow to easy movement of troops and Armour.

 The strategy that concerns us though is that of what fuel NATO forces will use in more desperate times. Strategists have indicated that all military vehicles should be able to run on Diesel in peace time and Aviation fuel, Kerosene, in war time. Such a policy meant that while most multi wheeled and tracked vehicles already in use would fair well, the motorcycle, sadly, would not.
 With the implementation of this policy looming, HDT and RMCS set about creating a motorcycle that would fit the criteria. Ultimately they succeeded in supplying the U.S. Marine corps with 522 machines in 2004 and it has recently been announced that this machine will soon be launched onto the commercial market, albeit, initially, in limited numbers. With considerable development behind it, prototypes and now several years of military service, the Diesel KLR will be the first purpose built motorcycle to be made available to the civilian market.
 The first machines on offer will be made to military spec and will therefore be expensive. No doubt most will baulk at the price and these few won’t be for the masses but in time, the price will drop and they will find their true place in the marketplace. But where will that be?

 If the U.K. Army goes ahead and purchases this machine (they are currently trialling it) it’s a sure bet that it won’t be long before other government agencies such as the Police take an interest. In time we can expect to see them being taken up by various Constabularies, most probably situated in the more rural parts of the country. Such machines would be ideal for policing the more inaccessible byways frequently used by those who steal, race and then dump and burn cars.
 Seeing that such agencies are a good deal more accountable to the tax payer than their camouflaged brethren, we may well see examples of them buying such machines purely to show how they are trying to keep costs down. The fuel efficiency figures of this machine make those of all others pale into insignificance.
The fact that these motorcycles can also be run on bio-diesel may mean they start to flaunt their ’green’ credentials as well.
Farmers too, with their use of subsidised agricultural red diesel, have shown an interest in the KLR. Whether it be for shepherding far flung flocks or just herding the cows in for milking, a rugged and capable machine could be just the ticket where a machine is expected to be able to cope with the worst that mother nature can throw at it. Such purchasers should bear in mind the fact that this bike may not be the kind of machine that can be just neglected for long periods of time and then expected to start on account that it has no kick starter.

 In the commercial sector, companies, or indeed the self employed, can be expected to run the rule over such a machine to see its suitability for jobs such as courier work. This, along with convoy work, was what the machine was originally designed to do, albeit over much rougher terrain. Those who opt to buy the KLR and employ it in this role will find it more suited to the vagaries of city life than that of the long distance haul. While the machine would be capable of such journeys those wishing to save in this area will be better served with a larger, multi-cylinder machine. But who knows when one of them will be brought to market?
 From there it will most probably also become a firm favourite with those hardy all weather bikers who insist on commuting everywhere on two wheels. Most such riders do not do long commutes and the KLR will almost certainly prove itself to be a valuable asset, it being reliable and extremely fuel efficient. One thing that should not be overlooked is the fact that the petrol version of this machine has been pounding Britains roads for many years now and as such there are many add on’s available. Firms, especially Stateside, specialise in all manner of panniers, racks and accessories.

 Because of the nature of the power delivery, one group that will probably be less enthusiastic will be the off road racers and Moto-crossers. In a sport where raw, back breaking power is, for the most part, delivered by large capacity two strokes, riders are not likely to be overly enamoured with a machine that feels, initially anyway, like a 125cc. At best, and in time though, we can expect to see a new class formed in much the same way as one was created for the larger size four stroke singles. This is only likely to happen as used machines become more affordable and are taken up by riders who will most probably be a little wary of such an unusual machine.

 But we predict that the Enduro riders will see things altogether more differently. Theirs is a style of racing that demands toughness from a bike as well as pulling power. Reports from the Military suggest the KLR, equipped as it is with a specially developed rear suspension unit, is quite capable of outpacing petrol powered machines over long distances off road. News like this will surely temp Enduro Riders to part with the green stuff when the machines become available for a lower price.

Closely associated with this group, of course, are those that see themselves as adventurers. Since the popularity of the McGregor/Boorman Long Way Round film this sector has come to the fore so much as to almost make the Adventure Motorcycle the bike to have. Companies such as BMW have benefitted greatly because of the exposure they have had and the pro's and con's of their bikes have been put under the microscope as a result. Concious of the weight BMW have shaved 30kg from the latest GS bringing it nearer to 199kg. But it's still not quite as light as the KLR which weighs in at 167kg. BMW have never been to enthusiastic about diesel powered motorcycles but the 670cc oil burning KLR may just change the face of adventure motorcycling as we know it.
 Apart from the obvious categories there is sure to be a fair number of people who will successfully convince themselves that they need this particular machine, however suitable or unsuitable it may be for their exact needs, simply because of it’s uniqueness and phenomenal mpg figures. Whether its for the limited edition or expected later models, some people just have to have the latest motorcycles. As a consequence, all models introduced will probably see a higher take up than one would normally expect from such a first run bike.

 All this is conjecture of course, and based on whether the KLR will actually ever makes it to the Sales fore-courts in any numbers. It remains to be seen how HDT will handle its massed production (should it go ahead) or whether its manufacture is licensed out to a larger concern. Some have speculated that Kawasaki may possibly be approached if only because the Diesel engined bike is constructed around one of their existing models.
 Obviously, as far as the general populace goes, take up will depend largely upon what model types will initially be available. It would be quite possible for the manufacturer, (whoever it be) to dress the existing model to appeal across a narrow range. In time we can most probably expect to see variations aimed specifically at the Commuter, Trail Rider and hardcore Enduro Racer. But actually devising a marketing campaign could prove an interesting exercise in itself given the attributes of the bike.
 When targeting the Enduro Racer we can expect to see the marketing people exploiting the machines Military heritage. This sector will be primarily interested in the bikes abilities as demonstrated by the soldiers who have ridden it before. Emphasis will be put on the machines durability and ruggedness while every aspect of the new 670cc Diesel engine will be laid out for prospective buyers to study. Being that bikers are generally unfamiliar with the kind of torque delivery that this machine will give, salesmen may have to resort to letting interested party’s loose on the bike for a little longer than might normally be the case with a petrol powered motorcycle.

 Again, when it comes to selling the motorcycle to the larger Trail Bike market we can expect to see the Military angle exploited with sales posters and images of the machine ‘in action’ with the Army. This bike is sure to have a big appeal to this particular demographic and any opportunity to associate the buyer with the Military should not be overlooked.

 If it’s felt that the Commuter market needs another variation of the KLR, then perhaps this model should have its Military links played down somewhat. In doing so it will be possible to bring to the fore the ‘Green’ credentials and outstanding fuel economy that the bike has to offer. In highlighting the KLR’s unique ability to run on a variety of fuels, it should be possible to convince even the most sceptical of people that this is the bike for them. Having fuel flexible transport in a world which is slowly running out of oil is surely the only sensible way to go.

 After studying the Diesel KLR I’ve no doubt that many people will be left pondering the irony that a motorcycle originally designed for the military may end up being so beloved of those at the opposite end of the political spectrum. Any one company that has a product such as this, a product that appeals to those on either extreme, surely has a product that will easily conquer the middle ground and therefore mass market.

  And given that this motorcycle was born way before American President George Bush made his recent announcement on future fuel policy in the U.S. we should take our hats off to the Military planners and strategists. It would seem they have again excelled in predicting the future needs of us all and produced a machine that is ahead of its time.

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