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David McMullan interviews Italian legends Fantic Motor


 

 

Hello Vitorino, I remember Fantic motorcycles from when I was a kid in the 70’s, can you please tell C2W readers something about the history of Fantic motorcycles?

 

Fantic Motor has been founded in 1968. Innovative models and high performances made Fantic the second largest European manufacturer in the 70-ties. Fantic focused on offroad segment during the late 70-ties and 80-ties and the results became immediately visible. Three Trial World Championships in 1985, 86 and 1988 and presence in the podium until 1995. Fantic continued its career in winning the 300cc Enduro European Championships in 2011 and several enduro 50cc national championships in Italy, Belgium, France, Finland until last year. I am very confident this year we will outperform our competitors on European tracks.

Some more info and a nice comparison between “what Fantic was doing” and “what happened in the world” on http://www.fanticmotor.it/azienda

 

 

When did you first come to China and what did you see?

 

The current Fantic top management had a long motorcycle experience in Aprilia and, as Aprilia, we had a long lasting experience with Chinese partners since 1994. Our experience has been overall very successful and we continue to trust Chinese companies, which evolved during these years.

One thing is for certain; China greatly improved every year and we cannot afford to be out of this market, regardless if you think to purchase or sales.

 

 

When we were together you were impressed by the Zongshen factory. What do you think about the technology used in Chinese motorcycle factories?

 

Chinese motorcycle factories are very polarized. Some of them evolved along the years and now they are really point of excellence, like Zhongshen. Others did not invest in innovation and R&D and now they are suffering the current recession.

 

 

From an Italian perspective what do you think the Chinese industry can do to improve?

 

Chinese industry shall keep up with the evolving technology. Investing in R&D and collaborating with some international company with outstanding R&D capabilities. This is our recipe. Second point relates to quality. Manufacturing process upstream to the raw material shall be tested and stable. This is the guideline Japanese companies gave all of us in the 80-ties and it is still valid.

 

 

In the UK Chinese bikes now outsell Japanese bikes. Do you think this could happen in other Eurozone countries?

 

The success in UK can even backfire if Chinese manufacturers are not able to guarantee stability of product quality. Reliable quality shall be a given!

On top of this consideration we feel there are other two essential ingredients to succeed in Eurozone. First: a design that suits European ever-changing taste. With this respect, collaborating with a European partner could be very beneficial. Second: the product shall not simply be cheap, but shall have excellent value for money. Chinese companies shall identify components where high standard is a must and components where the domestic product quality can be accepted.

 

Italian motorcycles are now becoming more popular in China with Benelli (of course Chinese owned) Ducati and MV Agusta all represented. Do you think that this injection of Italian motorcycle culture in to China can help with the progression of the Chinese industry especially regarding bigger engine motorcycles and better design?

 

Definitely. I feel that the Italian taste for style and the Chinese cost effectiveness made these two Countries natural partners in the future.

 

 

Motocross is a fast growing sport in China; do you think we can see Fantic bikes here? If so can I have one please?

 

We are still investigating this market, but motorcross is our first love and we cannot wait to be in China tracks, possibly with a local partner.

Do you want to be our first official driver? OK, your bike is ready.

 

 

What countries around the world are you selling the Fantic models to?

 

So far to all Eurozone and East European Countries. We are now in deep discussions with some potential partners to enter USA, Australia and Latin America.

 

 

Now that we know all about Fantic please tell us about your own background in the motorcycle industry

 

Motorcycle has been my first love and it will be my last. I started working in Laverda even before getting my degree in Engineering. After 6 years, I moved to Aprilia where I was the R&D Director for over 25 years. After a short interlude as CEO in a construction equipment company, I gathered back again the dream team with whom I spent my best years in Aprilia and here we are. Back in business to bring Fantic to the old glories of the 80-ties. A brand like Fantic Motors deserves it.

 

 

I missed you last time you came over, when are you next coming to China?

 

I come to China at least 5 times per year so I am very confident to be again in PRC next April and it will be a pleasure to meet you again. Maybe visiting some local motocross clubs, why not?


June 7, 2016
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