KTM prepares new affordable and green cars

Published: 09 July 2008

The X-Bow is only the beginning for KTM. The Austrian bike manufacturer is now readying a slew of new low-cost, eco models – including a cleaner, cheaper 4x4 and a choice of city cars aimed at developing countries and Europe alike.

KTM isn't deserting its madcap roots; an even more expensive X-Bow powered by a 300bhp Audi engine is on the way. But now the team from Mattersburg, Austria, is going to launch the world´s first frugal and eco-friendly off-roader.

The radical SUV will provide more everyday practicality than the X-Bow roadster, a pricey funmobile for the chosen few who can't decide between the Ducati and the Ferrari when they open the garage door.

A KTM SUV? You serious?

Only marginally thirstier than a bike and cheaper to buy than any existing SUV, the New Haflinger (its internal codename) is a kind of sophisticated quad bike, which does equally well on and off-road. According to those familiar with the project, the ultra-short go-anywhere toyster deserves full marks in the handling and roadholding chapter, too.

So it's a quad bike, not a car?

Think a halfway house. It will be available in closed- or open-top bodystyles and will be launched in 2010. KTM hope to win the Paris-Dakar rally (or its designated equivalent) on two and on four wheels. A nifty PR stunt, then.

Like the KTM enduro bikes, the dune special will be offered in street-legal form soon after the first competition outing.

Click 'Next' to read about KTM's planned urban runaroundsBut that's just a quad bike. What about urban solutions?

An even more relevant project KTM has in store is the so-called 'innovative urban transportation concept'. Think of it as cheap 'n' cheerful cars for the masses – especially in far-flung, developing countries. To tap low-cost engineering and production, the Austrians recently signed a comprehensive cooperation deal with Bajaj Auto, India's third biggest vehicle manufacturer after Tata and Mahindra.

Together with its new partner, KTM intends to develop three new radically different intra-city transportation devices: a four-seater urban runabout, a scooter and a trike.

Petrol, diesel and electric models

In addition to conventional diesel and petrol engines, a low-cost battery-powered e-drive module is an essential strategic element for all three models. Bajaj is the world market leader in the field of low-tech rickshaws and tuk-tuks, offering a wide selection of bodystyles and drivetrain variations.

What KTM wants to bring to the party is modern design, modern materials, modern electronics and modern chassis technology. Think Indian rickshaw meets KTM production values. Sounds promising...

Click 'Next' to find out how KTM might be bought by a big car maker

How KTM will target city dwellers with these new, cheap cars/bikes?

The company's trend scouts foresee substantial demand in particular from mushrooming mega-cities on all five continents. Says a source
familiar with the project: 'While car makers like BMW/Mini, Toyota and Mercedes/Smart are still looking at isolated regional solutions and at
derivative vehicle layouts, we have mapped out a simple yet sophisticated modular global concept which is tailormade for all applicatons.

'We recommend four wheels like a car where the roads are wide enough; slim yet stable three-wheelers for more confined spaces; and safer, partly covered two-wheelers for very tight environments.

'The electric option allows all three KTMs to go zero-emissions from day one, the modular vehicle architecture offers the full model spectrum from
emotional to pragmatic, and the Indian connection ensures a highly competitive cost pattern.'

Wow, so they're aiming high...

True. And you know what? We would not be one bit surprised if Ferdinand Piech's dream of adding a motorbike maker to the VW portfolio was in one or another way related to KTM.

Watch this space.

Click here to see Gordon Murray's take on the new urban runaround project

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel

  • KTM X-Bow front three quarters photo: powered by Audi, driven by nutters
  • KTM X-Bow rear three quarters photo: expect to see more, stripped back cars from KTM by 2010