Exclusive: The Brammo Fire Sale – The Story Behind the Story

3 years ago by Ted Dillard 13

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Brammo 2014 End of Summer Promo

Last week, we reported that Brammo was offering a rare End-of-Summer Sale, and almost instantly the online community went ablaze with speculation about the whys and wherefores of this offer.  Naturally, the reactions ranged from excitement and interest, from those who had been window-shopping and hoarding their pennies, waiting for just the right time to pull the trigger on a new Brammo, to frustration expressed by recent buyers at their bad timing.  There’s another thread of discussion there too: Why would Brammo make such a drastic move?  Are they in trouble? Are they offering a new model and clearing the shelves?  Or are they looking to preen themselves for the reported IPO we’re expecting in 2015?

Brammo - End-Of-Summer Promotion

Brammo – End-Of-Summer Promotion

To compound the speculation frenzy, the Ashland (OR) Daily Tidings reported that Brammo was working hard at keeping jobs here in the US, and expanding it’s offerings:

“Eight months after Brammo, Inc. moved into its cavernous new quarters, the message is clear — the electric motorcycle maker has room to grow in multiple directions. And that manufacturing growth will occur at home rather than overseas.”

Brammo Enertia

Brammo

This quote from Brammo CEO Craig Bramsher is of particular interest:

“Initially you always hope you can build a consumer brand that becomes the next Nike, Apple or Tesla,” Bramscher said. “We still have a vision for that, but we’re finding is that expertise we’ve developed in trying to build a product like the Empulse and bringing it to market, is that we’ve created a set of skills and capabilities that are beyond motorcycles. I didn’t really think we’d get into business-to-business side and start supplying batteries, motors, controllers and a complete solution to other companies, but that’s actually a very big growth area for us.”

It doesn’t take much of a jump to come to the conclusion that Brammo may be considering scaling back motorcycle operations in favor of a B2B supply line.  Rather than feed the flames with more speculation, we asked Adrian Stewart, Director of Marketing at Brammo, some pointed questions.

The first question is a simple “Why?”  Why is Brammo making such a dramatic and unprecedented move?  Stewart’s response:

As you know at the end of each selling season most of the OEMs drop prices to move out inventory from dealers – and make physical and financial space for new model year products.  If we assume all OEM’s lower their prices then hopefully it stimulates increased sales but market share remains relatively stable across the OEM’s.

What we wanted to do this year was lower prices to a point where we would increase both sales AND increase our unit market share through to the end of the year.  With that in mind we lowered prices quite aggressively and offered attractive financing -and we announced both of those promotions earlier in the selling season than usual.

Our goals:
o   Encourage potential customers to visit dealership network
o   Convert potential customers into owners
o   Sell out remaining inventory to enable dealers to order new model year product – once announced
o   Get Brammo motorcycles out on the street where they stimulate interest from other potential customers

Brammo - Intro Offer Promotion

Brammo – Intro Offer Promotion

For anyone interested in making the purchase, we need to know if Brammo intends to discontinue current models being blown out and offer a new line for 2015?  Facing an off-season purchase and months before a nice, warm ride is in the offing, it’s hard to compound that with an instantly obsolesced model.  His answer:

…we remain committed to the Empulse platform and there will be a 2015 model year Empulse. This pricing action is not the prelude to a total new consumer model.

Brammo Empulse R

Brammo Empulse R

Regarding the OEM work with drivetrains and batteries mentioned in the Ashland Daily Tidings story:

We are definitely continuing to grow the Brammo Power drivetrain side of the business and that was always part of our strategy and investor pitch. Our strategic relationship with Polaris is a obviously a key part of that.

This Press Release from Polaris gives a bit of background into what that might entail: Polaris Industries Inc. Announces New Business Unit and Leadership Changes in EMEA Business.  From that release:

Under Homan’s leadership, the Global Adjacent Markets business will have responsibility for all Small Vehicles product lines, including GEM, Goupil, Aixam/Mega and Brammo, as well as all commercial, Brutus, government and B2B applications of Off-Road Vehicles (ORV), Snow and Motorcycles outside Polaris’ traditional dealer channels. Homan’s team will also have responsibility for all merger and acquisition activity related to adjacent markets. Polaris’ Defense product line will report financial results through the Global Adjacent Markets business, but continue to operate as a separate business line.

Here’s some information on those individual components:  GEM, the “market leader in the low-speed vehicle (LSV) industry (with) more than 50,000 vehicles worldwide”.  Goupil, a light-utility electric vehicle manufacturer based in France, and Aixam Mega, a light utility and small electric car maker also based in France.  Stewart adds that: “… scaling up battery design and production capacity was one of the key reasons to move to our much larger building (20,000 sq ft to 100,000 sq ft).”

Brammo Empulse

Brammo Empulse

What Stewart says about motorcycle OEMs offering year-end sales is pretty much on target – Yamaha, for example, is offering a year-end special of financing incentives and cash back on models like the R1 and others, but at nowhere near the levels of the Brammo offers.  Is the aggressive Special going to give them the “double whammy” of clearing out stock as well as giving them market share?  We can only guess, but in the fiercely competitive gas-powered market, you’ve got to think you’d see it routinely if such a strategy worked.  What manufacturer doesn’t want market share?  It’s possible that in a market with only two players, it may be a different story.

The OEM supply route – selling your drivetrain technology and expertise – isn’t unique in this market.  We’ve seen Mission, for example, offer its drivetrain as a standalone almost since the day we first saw the Mission motorcycle, but with limited results.  Brammo, however, is uniquely partnered with Polaris – one of the largest motorsports powerhouses in the world.  That may have been the driving strategy behind that partnership from the start, certainly if it has “…always part of our strategy and investor pitch.”

One question remains.  Will Brammo keep all their balls in the air? In spite what seems like a huge, full plate, and may even seem like managerial ADD to the more skeptical, Brammo is a fairly small company with limited resources.  Can they keep up with what is starting to feel like an exploding motorcycle market, while developing their OEM market, and, not to be forgotten, all this on a worldwide stage?

Then there’s the Empulse.  Will we see a new, improved Empulse for 2015?  On that score as well, only time will tell.  We certainly will see a 2015 Empulse, but whether it will be as much of a breakout product as the 2014 Zero SR, we have no hint.  There are, of course, several internet rumors, one involving an Empulse RR replica.  We can only dream.

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Brammo Empulse RR

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13 responses to "Exclusive: The Brammo Fire Sale – The Story Behind the Story"

  1. GeorgeS says:

    The nice thing about the electric MOTORCYCLEs (versus a car) is that they go roughly twice the miles on a kwh than a car.

    This bike has a 3 kw charger so it could charge at around 18 MPH……still not fast enough for cross country riding which is about all I do.

    Now if Brammo could swing a deal with Tesla and use their SC network that would be cool.

    1. George, you like riding cross country and want to do it on an electric motorcycle? I’ve done it 4 times on my Vetter Zero.
      Check out yesterday’s Inside EV’s article:
      http://insideevs.com/vetter-challenge-hershner-makes-history-electric-zero/

    2. Unplugged says:

      If you like Brammo and are interested in looking at them, I would like to point out that Brammo will be a on display at the National Drive Electric event – Huntington Beach, on September 20th. If you want to see every available EV (and quite a few electric motorcycles, mopeds, and bicycles) on the market, come to the EV event of a lifetime! (Some models are not currently available for sale, like the 1916 Detroit 62 Cabriolet Electric.) Register and find out more info for this FREE event here: https://driveelectricweek.org/event.php?eventid=153

  2. Aaron says:

    Motorcycles are the ideal platform for electrification. Getting the “loud pipes save lives” crowd to ride them, however, is another story.

    1. John Hansen says:

      You’re probably referring to stereotypical Harley riders, so I just wanted to step in with a minor correction. In my area (Madison, WI), crotch rockets with modified exhaust are a bigger (louder) problem than Harleys with modified exhaust. Plus, the loud crotch rockets tend to drive by later at night, making them even more distracting. Fwiw, Harleys without modified exhaust are not overly loud.

      So while I agree with your overall point, I think the demographic that your point targets is a little off.

      1. Trevor says:

        That is such bull****. Harleys aren’t that loud? Apparently you’ve never been around one

        1. John Hansen says:

          Actually I’ve been around a lot of Harleys. Factory Harleys aren’t that loud. They have to comply with noise regulations like every other manufacturer. They even advertise to their customers to try to convince them to not modify their bikes to make them louder.

          http://www.motorcyclecruiser.com/harley-davidson-tries-to-quiet-motorcycle-noise-loud-pipes-cost

          It’s only Harleys that are modified that are really loud. Just like it is only crotch rockets that have been modified that are loud. Also, I’m not exaggerating when I say that loud crotch rockets are just as much of a problem as loud Harleys where I live.

          Also, frequently when you think you see a loud Harley, you are looking at a imitation Harley instead. Most other motorcycle manufacturers make imitation Harleys and people modify those to make them loud too.

          These are all facts. If you don’t believe me, then just look closely at the next loud Harley you see. First, look to see if its actually a Harley. If it is, check to see if the muffler says Harley on it. If it doesn’t, it’s been modified.

          1. James says:

            My home sits on a hill with a grand view of a very large lake. The cost for me, other than elevated property taxes, is that I also live right above a large highway. Every fine sunny day I retreat to the backyard for a nice view of the lake and it’s natural beauty, I also get a dose of the atypical Harley: “POTATO-POTATO-POTATO”… earful. At that point, I’m not concerned as to if that particular bike is modified or not – just that it’s a very common disturbance to the pleasure of life – for me and many like me.

            It’s a free country and God bless those folks who have to hear that noise pollution to be happy. I never discuss this to my friends who ride those beasts because they are creatures of the past. To them – things electric are just “weird” and foreign – and even the fact that Harley is playing around with the LiveWire leaves them unimpressed.

            Japanese crotch rockets are equally disturbing, as they have their own kind of obnoxious noise pollution – which is, naturally, also music to the ears of the riders who own them. It’s just part of our world we live in. If I have to grab some Bose sound deadening headphones to enjoy my backyard, and perhaps spend tens of thousands installing a pond with the loudest waterfall possible…So be it. We’re not in heaven. My heaven would be that every two-wheeled enthusiast ride a Brammo or Zero…

            1. John Hansen says:

              Ditto, I also dislike noisy motorcycles, and ideally they would all be electric! I was only pointing out that Harley, as a company, is not the culprit, and is actually more pro-active than any other motorcycle company in trying to combat the problem, so it’s not fair to bash them about it.

              Why not bash Kawasaki? Many Kawasakis, with loud modified exhausts, bother me when they pass my house. Kawasaki hasn’t made any attempt to educate their riders about the problem. Kawasaki also hasn’t developed an electric motorcycle. Therefore, it would be more appropriate to bash Kawasaki over the problem of loud motorcycles than Harley, which has actually made an attempt to solve the problem.

              So yeah, I totally agree with you. I dislike loud motorcycles, it’s just that I want people to place blame appropriately.

  3. protomech says:

    Nice reporting, Ted!

  4. Brian says:

    So they are working with Polaris to provide battery and drive train services? When can I expect to buy an electric Slingshot? 😉

    http://www.polaris.com/en-us/slingshot

  5. James says:

    There’s a small tavern at the bottom of the hill I live on, and a regular there owns a pickup truck equipped with a seriously-loud, realistic train air horn. For all indications, it’s a real train horn and boy, is this fella proud of it. In fact, after a few beers, he’s likely to go out into the parking lot ( usually after 11pm ) and honk the thing a few times to impress the girls.

    Oh man-does that thing make you jump up off the couch or out of bed! It’s THAT loud! We neighbors began calling the local police, and finally, one day, they caught him in the act and we didn’t hear that particular disturbance again for a year or two. Today, he’s back at it, as it seems the rush some may get from honking a loud device that disturbes people for 1/2 mile ’round is just too pleasurable to avoid, even if it means trouble with the law.

    It’s just that mentality that I feel gets into folks who love loud noises – IF they are made by themselves. It’s some sort of power-enabling rush, it seems. Disturbing others with large farts of sound coming from your very own machine must be gleefully endorphine-enhancing! – Or so it seems.

    My brother once owned a Harley Sportster with custom pipes and he had me ride it on a long, tree-lined entrance to a local racetrack. He wanted me to experience the full effect of the downshift, then gas-it approach to the full “Harley Sound”. I did as he suggested and it was fairly fun. Yet it wasn’t enough for me to lose my efficient, quiet Japanese bike in exchange for a fairly crude, vibration machine just for that sound experience. He’s since tired of the Harley thing and moved on to other things.

    It all makes me ponder the entire human experience. Why some of us need that feeling of power that making extremely loud, disturbing noises sometimes gives us…

    Just look to all the web posts about noise machines you can plug into your car’s audio system to make it sound like a Hemi, or a Ferrari…Remember the fabled German aftermarket customizer who equipped it’s Tesla Roadster package with a noisemaker?

  6. dan p says:

    I’v sent three emails concerning buying one of these bikes while on sale (a uk number isnt supplied so Iv tried brammo UK and US plus the clean-transpot people) and no one has got back to me.

    Typical uk supplier only replies when your waving twice the rrp