Thursday, April 16, 2015

Buell goes bust. Again!

Erik Buell with Pawan Munjal (MD and CEO, Hero Motocorp) in happier times

According to a report on the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, Erik Buell Racing (EBR) has shut shop and has filed for receivership. EBR, which has US$20 million in outstanding liabilities, and 126 employees who are now out of work, is currently seeking court protection from creditors.

Erik Buell, a brilliant motorcycle engineer and designer, used to earlier head the Harley-owned Buell Motorcycle Co. After Harley chose to shut Buell down back in 2009, Erik went on set up EBR and the company’s motorcycle line-up included the EBR 1190RS, 1190RX and the 1190SX Superfighter. Expensive and unconventional, the bikes never sold well and could not take on comparable machines from Japan and Europe.

EBR had tied up with one of the world’s biggest motorcycle manufacturers, Hero Motocorp, back in 2012. The latter had invested US$25 million and picked up a 49% stake in EBR, but that was sadly not sufficient to save EBR. “The turn we recently took, after we thought we were moving forward, was unexpected. We thought we had secured funding, but in the end, we were not able to get the funding in place. Therefore we need to do the best we can under the circumstances for all parties in interest,” says Erik Buell. “To say this setback is a disappointment does not begin to express what I feel right now. I am personally grateful for the support of our outstanding workers, customers and vendors. While this is a sad ending, I personally hope for a new and better beginning,” he adds.

EBR is now seeking protection under a state statute that is similar to US federal bankruptcy law. Individuals and companies will be able to bid for EBR and its assets, with the winning bid to be determined by a state court. However, given his proven tenacity and engineering brilliance, we’re sure Erik Buell will be back sometime soon. What will it be this time? Maybe a high-tech battery-powered all-electric superbike? Whatever it is, we’re sure Buell will continue to innovate and we certainly hope he sticks with the motorcycle industry. We wish EB all the best.

Update - Erik Buell's Facebook post:
"No doubt, it was an incredible ride, feeling like the longest qualifying lap ever. And, then, just when we knew we were about to set an all-time record, we tossed it in the last corner. Keeping with racing analogies, now we need to get back on the track and look ahead remembering all the things we were doing right around so many turns.

Unfortunately, in the end, we tried to do too much with too little funding, but it doesn't diminish the accomplishments. We introduced the world class American super bikes of 1190RS, 1190RX and 1190SX, while at the same time doing revolutionary work for Hero on the HX250R, Leap, SimplEcity, iON, RnT and many others, plus concepts never publicly seen. It was great EBR innovation and design, and introduced new technology to Hero and its suppliers to provide a real kick start for them. But in the end all of this simply overwhelmed us, and for that we are sorry and saddened.

I want you to know that looking ahead my focus is 100% on helping the receiver best maximize the value from EBR to benefit all, and I will make every possible effort to get the new organization to where it can support the dealers and customers first, and then help find investment to get back to full throttle.

Thank you for your support, it means a great deal. Please stay tuned - I cannot predict the future, but always believe the best is yet to come."

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