Early years of KTM
KTM was founded in 1934 by Hans Trunkenpolz in Mattighofen, Austria. The company originally focused on selling and repairing DKW motorcycles and Opel cars. However, after World War II, demand for repair works fell sharply. In response, Trunkenpolz began thinking about manufacturing his own motorcycles. The prototype for the first KTM motorcycle, the R100, was completed in 1951. The serial production of the R100 began in 1953, with a rate of three motorcycles per day by 20 employees.
KTM between 1953–1991
In 1953, businessman Ernst Kronreif became a major shareholder of the company, which was renamed and registered as Kronreif & Trunkenpolz Mattighofen. In 1954, the R125 Tourist was introduced, followed by the Grand Tourist and the scooter Mirabell in 1955.
KTM first race title
The company secured its first racing title in the 1954 Austrian 125cc national championship. In 1956, KTM made its appearance at the International Six Days Trials, where Egon Dornauer won a gold medal on a KTM machine. KTM also secured its first world championship title in the 1960 125cc event with Paul Friedrichs.
KTM built its first sports motorcycle in 1957. KTM's first moped Mecky, was launched in 1957, followed by Ponny I in 1960 and Ponny II in 1962 and Comet in 1963. Ernst Kronreif died in 1960. Two years later, Hans Trunkenpolz also died of a heart attack. His son Erich Trunkenpolz took charge of the company's management.
KTM continued to expand in the 1970s, with a workforce of 400 employees and 42 different models. The company also started to develop and produce engines and radiators. Radiators sales to European car manufacturers made up a large part of KTM's business in the 1980s.
KTM North America
In 1978, KTM North America Inc. was founded in Lorain, Ohio.
Two years later, the company was renamed KTM Motor-Fahrzeugbau KG and one year later KTM had about 700 employees and a turnover of 750 million Schilling (about 54.5 million euros). International business then amounted to 76% of the company's turnover.
KTM had to halt production in 1988 due to rapidly sinking sales of scooters and mopeds. Erich Trunkenpolz, the company's founder, died in 1989. The Austrian investment trust GIT Trust Holding, controlled by politician Josef Taus, took over a 51% stake in the company that year. However, the company was unable to turn things around and went bankrupt in 1991. The management of KTM was then transferred to a consortium of creditor banks.
KTM after 1991
In 1992, it was split into four new entities: KTM Sportmotorcycle, KTM Fahrrad, KTM Kühler and KTM Werkzeugbau. Now owned by KTM Motorradholding, which was formed by Cross Holding (a Cross Industries daughter) and other investors, KTM Sportmotorcycle started operation in 1992 and later took over the tooling division KTM Werkzeugbau. In the following years, it increased production and turnover, investing in new production and R&D facilities, introducing new models and successfully sponsoring and taking part in various sports racing events.
The company underwent a series of restructurings and stakeholder changes guided by KTM's managing director and Cross Industries owner Stefan Pierer. In 1994, KTM started production of the Duke series of road motorcycles, in 1996, KTM motocross machines were first decked out in KTM's signature orange color, and 1997 saw the introduction of liquid-cooled two-cylinder Supermoto and Adventure motorcycles. In 2007, the company debuted the KTM X-Bow sports car.
KTM, Husaberg and Husqvarna merger
KTM Motorradholding GmbH bought the Swedish motorcycle maker Husaberg AB in 1995 and control of the Dutch firm White Power Suspension
Bajaj Auto bought a 14.5% stake in KTM Power Sports AG in 2007 and by 2013, Bajaj Auto owned 47.97% of the company.
Husqvarna Motorcycles was founded in 1903 and is the oldest motorbike company still operational. In 2013, KTM bought the swedish motorcycle brand from its previous owners BMW Motorrrad AG.
Later that same year KTM merged the brand Husaberg and the brand name "Husqvarna" into Husqvarna Motorcycles after it had been sold to Italian company Cagiva in the 90's.
Photographer: Mitterbauer H.
After its final restruction KTM Motorradholding GmbH become KTM AG in 2012 and by 2015 it generated over one billion euros and employed over 2500 people. Three of the four separate companies were now under control of the KTM Group; KTM Sportmotorcycle GmbH, KTM Werkzeugbau GmbH and KTM Kühler GmbH (today WP Radiators) and only KTM Fahrrad GmbH (KTM Bike Industries) remains as an independent company currently owned by Chinese investors.
KTM after 2020
KTM Group, now consisting of KTM, Husqvarna Motorcycles, and GasGas Motorcycles and in 2021 Bajaj Auto sold 46,5% of their 47.97% shares to Pierer Mobility AG in exchange for 49% that company.