It seemed inevitable, and it’s surprising it took this long. At the end of this past week, much of Europe started to shut down due to coronavirus fears, and motorcycle manufacturers started to shut down as well.
Although Italian authorities had shut down much of the country in an effort to stop the spread of the COVID-19 illness, much of the motorcycle industry had remained in business, with some precautions. At the start of the month, factories announced they were running strict sanitation protocols, with lots of hand-washing, and an emphasis on telecommuting if possible. They also restricted access by the public; museum and workspace tours were halted.
However, some companies are now taking it further. Ducati announced a temporary closure, supposedly ending early this week, to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Moto Morini also announced it was halting production, although that’s not likely to affect many buyers, especially outside Italy. We haven’t heard from other motorcycle manufacturers, although there are many others based in Italy (Piaggio, Vespa, Moto Guzzi, Aprilia, MV Agusta and Beta for starters). Of course, there are smaller sub-contractors, design offices and gearmakers that will also be affected.
Brake manufacturer Brembo is one of the biggest of those component manufacturers, and it’s also announced a temporary closure. This doesn’t seem to be a blanket closure of all its facilities, so it’s possible some motorcycle components may continue production.
Outside Italy, KTM has also announced closure of its Austrian plant, and supposedly its office staff has also been told to work from home. We’ve seen no official press release about this yet, but it may help a tricky situation where global demand is also likely dropping, something that every manufacturer is likely to deal with this year. This KTM closure is also said to be affecting GASGAS and Husqvarna production, as all three brands are connected now, sharing ownership and many designs and components.