Interview Giovanni Castiglioni: the future MV Agusta F4 will be … different !
Site interviewed the big boss of MV Agusta, Giovanni Castiglioni, on the sidelines of the test of the new Brutale 800 RR. The son of the illustrious Claudio gives us his vision of the brand, some info on his future F4 and Brutale 1000 models, on the competition…
- MNC interview of May 13, 2016 :
- MNC of 22 November 2016 :
- MNC of July 25, 2017 :
As a preamble, a little word about and to whom you paid tribute on Instagram. You knew him well ?
Giovanni Castiglionni: Yes, he was a wonderful man that I had known from a young age. I saw him,, achieve great things, revive the motorcycle industry in Italy three decades ago … four decades now, with Cagiva, then Aprilia, Ducati, Husqvarna, Moto Guzzi, Gilera, MV Agusta well sure … People have forgotten, but before them there were no more Italian motorcycles on the market! Ivano Beggio was my father’s opponent (smiles). But an excellent opponent (laughs).
Do you expect to roll in their path ?
G. C .: It’s difficult these days. We are no longer in the 80s and 90s which were more favorable. The production of motorcycles has changed and so has the way of selling them. To be honest, I feel a bit alone: today I am the last guy to manage a company of this size. There are other entrepreneurs in the motorcycle world, but their business is smaller, right? We have to admit that the task is arduous: the competition is fierce in this industry, we face big players: BMW, Ducati and Audi, the Japanese who make everything – from pianos to airplanes – even KTM is owned. half by the largest Indian group (Bajaj). It is not easy. But in the end, we do it out of passion. Passion for motorcycles.
It’s a passion more than a job ?
G. C .: Yes. Originally, my father was an entrepreneur who invested in various activities. But he fell in love with motorcycles, and very quickly it took up 99% of his time. Same for me! I started in 2003 to help restructure MV: I worked on the, then on the and I thought I finished my mission by signing with. I was then delighted that the MV Agusta brand joined the Harley-Davidson group, I really considered it a fantastic transaction. It was good for me. The company was in good hands, the future was bright…
But she threw it all down…
G. C .: Incredible, right? I ended up at! Why ? At this point, the company was small, high-end focused and with no new products. However, the motorcycle market was more oriented towards entry-level, steadily declining and shunned by banks. Harley-Davidson couldn’t sell MV … Harley still owed us $ 80 million and was planning to shut down the factory. I told them "forget it, just give me 20 million and the company". This is what happened: I used the money to invest in MV, telling myself that it was the last time (smiles) … I was convinced that the 3-cylinder would allow the brand to grow faster and that I could resell it more easily. Not just for the money, but to install MV within a large group, to ensure stability.
It was the goal of ?
G. C .: Exactly. But unfortunately, for reasons that I have already explained (mainly on Site: reread our, Editor’s note). It was there, for the first time, that I changed my mind: I no longer want to limit myself to the role of investor, but I intend to lead this company – with extraordinary assets, with strong values - over the long term. term. I see it smaller, specialized in the very high end, more "calm" and concentrated on the quality of service. I realize that some customers will criticize us and attack us on the price of motorcycles: “your motorcycles cost 19,000 … 30,000 euros? You know the 675 was a good bike, but it wasn’t "us". It was like forcing a Formula One driver to perform well in motocross. He might be able to, but it’s not his job.
What do you remember from all this ?
G. C .: In five years, the production of MV Agusta has grown from 2000 to almost 9000 motorcycles. But we realized that selling very high-end motorcycles is one thing, selling entry-level bikes is another. In the latter case, you have to make volume because the margins are different, you should not hesitate to make promotions, you must have good financial tools. All this is easy for our rivals because they are supported by the big groups to which they belong. On our side, we ran out of cash and we could no longer pay the suppliers. But our problem went beyond the financial aspect. A money problem can be solved … provided of course that the rest holds up. Without it, it’s like pouring water into a bathtub but without putting the plug! Over the past two years, we have restructured the company, repositioned the brand … Everything has been reviewed: personnel, investments, type of products, participations in the company, partnerships, etc. It was very intense. I was already spending 99% of my time in motorcycles compared to 1% in other businesses. Now it’s 99.9 Vs 0.1%! But it’s my passion. And I’m sure we can make it happen.
For example, have high hopes for the French market ?
G. C .: I think we can do much better in France. The pressure strategy ("push strartegy" which consists in pushing the product towards the consumer, editor’s note) employed during the Mercedes period by our team in France did not work. We are refocusing on dealers who believe in us and don’t just see us as the "icing on the cake" by making two sales. Dealers who sell a few motorcycles a year will never be able to invest in the brand. As for the customer experience, very often it is not good either: on the one hand because of the brand which does not deliver the parts to this store, and on the other because of the salesman who s ” gives priority to customers of other larger brands.
And in terms of products, what do you expect in the future? ?
G. C .: As you know, we have never stopped investing. We are currently working on the new 4-cylinder platform, but in a new state of mind because the technology employed will result in reduced production. The capital point for a small brand is the production: yes, this bike is sublime, but then you have to see with the factory for the tank, trim, saddle, etc. But we do not work this way if we want to produce 20, 500, 2000 or 50,000 pieces! On the 3-cylinder, we were on the big series. For the future 4-cylinder, we are changing our method: the materials will be of very high quality, composites or magnesium for example, the saddles will be made by hand … It’s another job. The industrial investment will be less important, but the production cost will be much higher, therefore, naturally the motorcycle will cost much more. But it is aimed at a different type of customer looking for more power, technology, torque, speed. We can always ask a biker if he needs more than 200 horsepower on a roadster? The answer is no. Do you need 700 hp in a car? No. But do you like it? Yes (laughs).
He doesn’t need it. He can’t take advantage of it. But he wants her !
G. C .: Exactly! Some bikers are afraid of our motorcycles. They can buy a Moto Guzzi V7 … which is great! It’s just not our type of motorcycle. Even the neo-classic project that we are developing at the moment (arrival scheduled for 2020, Editor’s note!) Remains a powerful product. It won’t hit 300 km / h, but it certainly won’t make 80 hp either..
The Turismo Veloce remains in the MV Agusta catalog ?
G. C .: Yes. We consider that communication around this motorcycle has not been properly ensured, or has been badly perceived. The was my idea, and I accept the faults with which it is blamed. I wanted to make a comfortable one, not a Touring. His goal was not to go to the North Cape. You had to be able to take your wife, your girlfriend or her boyfriend, or whoever it was, from point A to point B that was not 200 km away, but up to 1000 km. She had to be powerful, but not too strong. It was a compromise, but expect a powerful Turismo Veloce to arrive in the future. The current Turismo Veloce remains a sports car, a machine for bikers who come from the roadster or the sports car. It’s not a Touring. This is what we wanted to signify through new more sporty paintings, or the. Without that, the Turismo Veloce looks a bit tender next to the other MVs, right? However, this is not the case: it has character to spare. But we will work on the maximum power.
The positioning of the Turismo Veloce was not sufficiently clear ?
G. C .: We have to make sure that the Turismo Veloce is seen as a real MV. If I had to make a Touring tomorrow, with a 4-cylinder, it would have to be able to drive at 300 km / h. Some brands manage to produce everything. We know from experience that this is not the case: no matter how beautiful we make Touring, or Custom, or whatever … our customers will continue to buy sports cars or roadsters. This does not mean that we should not consider the Turismo Veloce as belonging to our family. On the contrary, it must be better integrated. If you want a big, easy bike, then fine, get a 1200 twin that does the job perfectly. If you want to put the knee on a Touring motorcycle then come to us.
Is your ever more "Super Premium" orientation due to the good sales of the RR, RC or limited edition models? ?
G. C .: This is what we sell the most. But that was the case in 2015. We signed with Mercedes in 2014, the management team changed and after only three months we were already starting to not get along. I wanted to slow down, resize the company … They wanted the opposite. I told them: "we sell more Premium models than entry-level models. This is an important signal"! Instead of having a 20/80 mix, we produced 50/50. But while the Premiums were leaving, the entry-level products remained in stock, forcing us to make discounts. I was aware of the discrepancy with my friends, or the customers that I know personally: none bought a 675. It was only with the arrival of the "double R" in 800 – in particular – that they were are said: "oh, it is not a 1000 certainly, but it is cool, I buy".
Maybe, but the 675s were a way to open up to new customers ?
G. C .: Yes, but customers who for many do not have the MV mentality. They thought that at 9000 euros, they bought a motorbike worth 13,000 euros. No. Of course not. Otherwise, that would mean we’re making a bunch of money on motorcycles at 14,000. We don’t..
Customers and dealers have been disappointed with MV Agusta in recent years. How do you plan to regain their trust ?
G. C .: Businesses have their ups and downs, that’s normal. It is important to know how to pass the tests. Seen from the outside, our last two years seemed uncertain, and we are sorry. But in the end, the company is in a much better position and personally, I am happy to have kept it: it is a family, it is worth investing again.
What is the main difference between the partnership with AMG and the one with ComSar ?
G. C .: Ah, that has nothing to do with it. I have often dealt with conglomerates, and each time it is different. One thing is certain: when it is your money that you put somewhere (which is the case with l, and his brother whom we also met in the offices of the MV Agusta factory, editor’s note), your attention is not is no longer the same. I believe it was Napoleon who said: "Even on the highest of thrones, you are never seated except on your ass" (quote from Montaigne in fact, Editor’s note). ComSar is a billion-dollar oil and gas group, to be sure, but it doesn’t fit the stereotype of the Chinese, Indian, or Russian giant offering themselves a brand for fun, or as a trophy. They have a whole different culture, they grew up in the United States where you buy something to improve it, to make it work. I think the Saradov family would have many other nicer things to do elsewhere, but they stay here at MV. It’s a real partnership, they really invest. With AMG, it was not the same. However, we did everything to sign with Mercedes, because I saw a great opportunity there, on paper. There were some very good people there who also believed in it. But in life, no matter how much everything seems aligned to be successful, it only takes one person to screw it up. That’s what happened.
In December 2016, you spoke with one of our colleagues (Australian Motorcycle News). Eventually it will be a 1000 cc !
G. C .: Did I say 1200 cc? No.
The reporter said you said…
G. C .: No, 1200 impossible. I might have said 109. Maybe. No, but we stayed at 1000 cc because we want to bring all the power of a Superbike directly into a roadster. The skeleton of this future Brutale is Leon Camier‘s motorcycle, now Jordi Torres’ motorcycle.
It is an evolution of the World Superbike F4 ?
G. C .: No, this is not a "decarenated" Superbike. But in terms of engine, we want to introduce all the progress brought by competition. This is the concept, even if it will obviously be Euro4 approved and will therefore include different parts..
A new F4 is announced for 2021, but it is dubbed "Hyper bike" rather than Superbike. What does this imply? She will not line up in WorldSBK ?
G. C .: La is going to retire: it was a great machine, but it’s 20 years old and we have to make a new bike. We had two possible approaches: a really pretty and traditional motorcycle, or something … different. Which doesn’t mean the design will be wacky. It will be different in its technology. We did not ask ourselves the question of competition. We do something cool first and foremost. Can we ride in the Superbike category? Maybe not. But I do not believe that our customers correspond to "Win on Sunday, sell on Monday" ("win Sunday, sell Monday", the leitmotif of the World Superbike, Editor’s note). Even though I think we have done some great things in World Superbike, that it was a rewarding experience, we will be heading towards Moto2..
You are going to trade your 4-cylinder 1000 cc and your "Tre Pistonni" 675 cc for a 3-cylinder … 765 cc Triumph !
G. C .: Yes. I know that some people find it difficult to understand the interest in a brand to align itself in a category where the engine is supplied by another manufacturer … But what is KTM doing now? When they win races, are we talking more about KTM or Honda? There is nothing degrading about racing in Moto2. We are convinced that we know how to make good chassis. The one in our F3 is awesome. We proved it with Jules (Cluzel), moreover, our best rider in recent years and one of my great friends. We can make a good Moto2, it will take time, but we can do it. The advantage is that we will be able to release a new F3 with Moto2 Replica frame and MV engine! It won’t be easy: I went to Valencia at the end of the season and … it’s fast! In addition, half a second behind the leader in Superbike corresponds to 7th or 8th place. In Moto2, it’s not the same…
When do you think you can decorate your RC models with a 38 (the current 37 corresponds to the number of world titles won by MV Agusta) ?
G. C .: I will not say another word ! The first time I talked about it was in 2014. So I said: "next year, we will have to change all the stickers". And. I would have killed him! It was a real shame because he was the best driver at the time. And i still think so.
No more betting on the future then ?
G. C .: Not Completed. Because when we project ourselves, we are often disappointed on arrival (smile). I have experienced this several times in my career. But it would be fantastic to do it in Grand Prix.
Your partner, the premier category … It’s too early to talk about it too ?
G. C .: Ah, that’s his Russian side (laughs). But I share his point of view! We first have to prove ourselves in Moto2. To then switch to MotoGP, it would be necessary to raise funds because MV Agusta is not the size to venture into MotoGP alone. But with good results in Moto2 and big investors and sponsors, it wouldn’t be impossible.
Today, your motorcycles registered in World Superbike and Supersport do not have major sponsors on their fairings. Is it voluntary ?
G. C .: No. The first thing to know is that the MV Agusta team does not belong to us. The restructuring plan provides for delegating this activity to a third party (as Kawasaki does with Provec, or Honda with Ten Kate, editor’s note). "The motorcycles are ours, but the team, the staff, the managers, the finances are not managed by MV.
You got closer to the Russians of Yaknnich…
G. C .: Right, but they are not the ones leading the team. This is Andrea Quadranti, a Swiss entrepreneur who works in Monaco. He is so passionate about motorcycles that he set up his structure and injected a lot of money into it. I’m not sure it’s such a happy placement…
And for next season in Moto2, you have found a title sponsor ?
G. C .: Yes, but we still have to sign … We hope to get back to you within a month. In fact we found a lot of sponsors. People are investing in Moto2. In World Superbike, it’s more difficult: we see Pata on Yamaha, but I doubt that Pata will give five million euros. It is surely much less.
MotoGP is more popular than WorldSBK…
G. C .: … even the Moto2. Riding a Moto2 is as expensive as a Superbike. It is incredibly inaccessible. This is a wonderful opportunity for us. We are developing the bike, we hope to arrive as soon as possible: the goal is to integrate the category in 2019. Will we start from last place? It’s possible. You have to accumulate experience, trust.
We need pilots too! Jules Cluzel is too old ?!
G. C .: No, I think he would be fine. I don’t know what his current contract is, for how many years he signed. I don’t think he’s too old. He is excellent, at MV Agusta he was fantastic! It’s true that the average age in Moto2 is very low, the riders are very fast … "Julo" should train hard at the gym! But when you look at the Moto2 and WSSP times, they’re not too far apart. The power of the Moto2 is less: about 120 hp I believe, against 150 for our racing F3.
You are about to take on another challenge too: electric, with Cagiva !
G. C .: We are actually working on a project. We can’t reveal anything yet, but I can say it’s a great opportunity because this brand has great potential. The "non-thermal" two-wheeler also has great potential, especially if it’s fun, fast and light … Don’t expect to see a "hyper bike" like this landed. It’s a great product, I’m not saying the opposite, but it doesn’t match our MV brand and its customers. Cagiva has been dormant for a long time. We didn’t want to wake her up to follow a simple fad. We have MV Agusta for that. We intend to relaunch Cagiva for many years.
However, you announced that MV Agusta was working on a new "One To One" project, a (unique!) Motorcycle that will also integrate an alternative engine….
G. C .: Yes, but alternative does not necessarily mean electric. All I can tell you today is that she will be very powerful. And that she will make noise !
Noise, polluting emissions … Metropolises are struggling from now on against this. Cagiva and its electric vehicles are a way for you to remain present in the cities ?
G. C.: Yes, that’s why it’s a project that is not limited to two or three years, but for at least fifteen. Cities are changing. There are already some in China where it is no longer possible to buy vehicles with internal combustion engines. Imagine the number of two-wheelers to be supplied in Asia. Or in France, Paris or Nice for example, where many motorcycles or scooters circulate. It is also for us the possibility of developing technologies which, possibly, one day, could land on MV Agusta..
It is also a way to reach a younger clientele. Provided that Cagiva’s positioning is not too "Super Premium"…
G. C .: Yes quite. We will target young people and Cagiva will offer "Premium" products, because it has never been "Super Premium". The prices will not reach those of MV Agusta. But it will be other types of motorcycles. You will like, I’m sure…
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