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As the Coronavirus outbreak wreaks havoc across the globe, reports of travel restrictions and toilet paper shortages seem to dominate the headlines, though …

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  KTM, Yamaha, Ducati & Others Close Factories Over Coronavirus

KTM, Yamaha, Ducati & Others Close Factories Over Coronavirus
 Several motorcycle manufacturers halt production in Europe over pandemic.

Published on 03.17.2020

As the Coronavirus outbreak wreaks havoc across the globe, reports of travel restrictions and toilet paper shortages seem to dominate the headlines, though behind the scenes – especially in Europe – some of the world’s most popular motorcycle brands are struggling to protect workers as well as compensate for production lulls caused by slack in supply chains.

Last week the Pierer Mobility Group, Europe’s largest motorcycle manufacturer and parent company to KTM, Husqvarna and GasGas announced its workforce would be taking a two week “company vacation” from March 30th through April 10th. This plan was triggered by an impending interruption in the supply chain from northern Italy where many of Pierer’s suppliers were hard hit by the Coronavirus.

During this down time Pierer intends to put into effect new protocols it says will enhance worker safety as well as production line efficiency.

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Ducati, in hard-hit Italy, seems more focused on the immediate health of its workers, having announced it has completely shut down its plant in Borgo Panigale until March 25th. This, after it had already been taking diligent measures since late February to thwart the virus, including monitoring the temperatures of all employees entering the plant.

Ducati Borgo Panile Factory

Ducati says it will use the down time to implement new protocols and actions on the production lines that will further increase the safety level of workers.

Another iconic Italian brand, Moto Morini, has also shuttered its factory in Trivolzio, near Milan, for the time being, while brake manufacturing giant Brembo reports it’s still eking out some componentry while running a skeleton crew in its Milan-based facilities.

No word from Piaggio, Vespa, Moto Guzzi, Aprilia, Beta or other Italian brands undoubtedly affected by the outbreak, though we just learned from Yamaha Europe that production at two of its facilities in Italy and France has been temporarily suspended in response to the ongoing pandemic. “Both facilities will remain closed until 22nd March, after which the situation will be reviewed on a weekly basis,” says Yamaha.

Yamaha Motor Europe N.V.

Meanwhile in Germany, BMW’s corporate offices emptied out as the company asked its employees to work from home after several people at the Munich headquarters tested positive.

The good news is — yes, there is good news! — that at least in the short term it’s unlikely these closures and interruptions will affect availability of new models or spare parts as our 2020 riding season gets underway. 

Pierer Mobility affirms “The availability of all models is guaranteed for the upcoming start of the season in the worldwide dealer network.” In addition, Ducati has stated “all the support services for our customers are guaranteed, first and foremost the supply of spare parts.”

And yes, despite the world going into full-tilt, toilet paper-hoarding panic mode, we should still get out and ride our motorcycles. In fact, let’s consider it a public safety service. After all, motorcycling is social distancing at its finest. Complete with gloves, full-face coverage and fresh air.

Author: Jamie has been a motorcycle journalist for more than 30 years, testing the entire range of bikes for the major print magazines and specializing in adventure-travel related stories. To date she’s written and supplied photography for articles describing what it’s like to ride in all 50 states and 43 foreign countries, receiving two Lowell Thomas Society of American Travel Writer’s Awards along the way. Her most-challenging adventure yet has been riding in the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia as Team AusAmerica’s embedded journalist.


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Author: Jamie Elvidge

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