Kawasaki, Suzuki to Stop Selling Each Other's Motorcycles

Kawasaki and Suzuki have narrowed the scope of their alliance and will no longer sell each other's motorcycles beginning in 2006.

Back in 2001, Kawasaki and Suzuki announced a cooperative arrangement where they would share some resources, streamline development and also sell select models of each other's motorcycles rebadged for their model lines. This model sharing was supposed to help each round out their model lines. Now the companies have narrowed the focus of their alliance and announced that, with one exception, a Suzuki 400 sold by Kawasaki, they will no longer share models and will revert to "more focused, independent development activity...to further enhance their respective brand identities." The Kawasaki release below also indicates that further changes to the alliance are possible.

This discontinuation of the exchange of select rebadged motorcycle models affects just a single street bike. The Suzuki Boulevard M95 performance cruiser was the only street bike the two companies ever shared and the Suzuki version will be discontinued for the 2006 model year. The Boulevard M95 is built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and is a lightly restyled version of the 2005 Kawasaki Mean Streak 1600, which presumably will be continue to be produced in 2006. Suzuki will also stop selling other Kawasaki-built machines, including the RM65 motocross bike, the DR-Z110 off-road bike, and some ATV and utility-vehcile modelss. Kawasaki will drop the KLX125A, KLX125B, KSF80A, KSF50A, and KDX50A off-road bikes.

Kawasaki issued the following press release addressing the changes:

_KAWASAKI-SUZUKI ALLIANCE ENTERS NEW PHASE

The "alliance" announced in August 2001 between Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd., (KHI) and Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC) will now focus on potential exchanges of indirect resources, rather than on direct OEM product exchanges. It was originally formed as a mechanism to allow sharing of parts sourcing, platform production of OEM units, and joint development of new products.

Following a successful three-year arrangement, both companies have considered factors related to sales volume, profitability, customer reaction, influence on brand image, and competitiveness of each OEM product. The two brands have jointly agreed that more focused, independent development activity will serve to further enhance their respective brand identities with their loyal customer bases.

This modification to the alliance relationship will mean that OEM product sales will be discontinued, and the following models will not be available from Kawasaki, effective with the 2007 model year:

KLX125A/B, KSF80A, KSF50A, KDX50A

KHI product development has been accelerated during the initial alliance phase, as more resources were able to be placed against brand-specific product needs. The company will continue to develop new models to replace some of the above. Meanwhile, the KSF400A will still be produced for model year 2007.

Achieving significant savings in development resources was a primary goal of the relationship with SMC, and having done that, KHI is in a stronger position for investment spending against future product introductions. The market environment is such that expectations for new technologies and their product applications are ongoing, and KHI is intent on continuing to deliver excellence in these areas.

The alliance with SMC, and its benefits to our dealers, will be reviewed on a regular basis. Joint activity will be determined based on careful review of the effect it will have on both retail profitability and customer loyalty._

For more breaking motorcycle news, visit the home page of www.MotorcycleCruiser.com.

Built by Kawasaki, Suzuki's 2005 Boulevard M95 is a cosmetic variation of the Mean Streak 1600 (see below). It will be discontinued for the 2006 model year.
Kawasaki's counterpart to the M95, the Mean Streak, is functionally identical, though the cosmetic differences are significant. It's expect to return in '06.