Ski-Doo’s parent company BRP Inc. is nothing if not aggressive, but the news that has already broken this week borders on mind-blowing.
First, at its dealer meeting in Utah on Sunday, August 7, the company unveiled a whole bunch of new product for the marine and off-road sides of its business, while at the same time giving dealers a first glimpse of its electric Can-Am motorcycle prototypes.
Then, on Tuesday morning, yet another acquisition by the company was announced, as it bought one of its Quebec-based suppliers for about $106 million ($136 million in Canadian dollars). This buy comes on the heels of several other purchases this year.
Exciting New Products
From our perspective, the most head-turning new product unveiled Sunday night was the new Rotax outboard engines that tuck underneath the revolutionary pontoons on which they are mounted.
The first configurations of the motors will be 115 and 150 horsepower. They are being hyped as powerful, efficient and quiet – the quietness helped by the fact that they run low to the water underneath a platform of the Manitou pontoons on which they are found. We find their “Stealth Techynology” design very intriguing, and the pontoons that are designed to carry them are very stylish.
Remember, BRP until recently owned the Johnson and Evinrude brands but discontinued them in 2020. Now with the launch of the Rotax outboards, the Evinrude move makes a little more sense.
Other boat and PWC designs were announced, too, but the next most buzz-worthy marine product shown might have been the prototype Sea-Doo Rise, an electric-powered hydrofoil. Consider it an above-water surfboard that makes its own power and doesn’t need a surf, just water. It was unveiled as a mid-2024 product.
Switching to two wheels, BRP also showcased two models from its previously announced Can-Am electric motorcycle lineup, which is also scheduled to launch in 2024. The narrow, sleek motorcycles include a Can-Am Origin dual-purpose bike and a Can-Am Pulse city bike. They would be Can-Am’s first two-wheeled products in decades. Our sister motorcycle publication Rider Magazine offers more insight on the bikes here.
Tuesday morning, August 9, news broke of yet another acquisition by BRP. This one is the Shawinigan, Quebec-based operations of Kongsberg Automotive.
The press release came from the Kongsberg Automotive side and refers to the transaction as a divestiture of the larger company, which has most of its eggs in other transportation baskets.
The Shawinigan facility, though, “specializes in the production of a wide range of products for powersports applications, such as sensors, actuators, electronic power steering, wire harnesses, dashboard assemblies, etc.,” the press release said. From reading deeper, it’s obvious that this purchase meant that BRP is buying up one of its big suppliers.
Later on, Zurich-based head of the Kongsberg corporation Joerg Buchheim said, “BRP and KA have a strong relationship and a long history of collaboration. KA Shawinigan is almost solely dedicated to BRP. Therefore, the products KA Shawinigan supplies are highly customized. With this sale, BRP will fulfill its strong wish to vertically integrate KA’s product portfolio. We look forward to continuing our relationship with BRP on future business opportunities out of our other US-based Off Highway business unit location.”
The transaction includes 300 employees at a location that is just two hours up the road from BRP’s headquarters in Valcourt, Quebec.
Also in the press release, BRP President and CEO Jose Boisjoli said, “Over the years, we have built a strong relationship based on trust and shared values with KA. We are very enthusiastic about this acquisition as we expect that it will enable us to gain further expertise in mechatronics. We look forward to welcoming highly trained and skilled employees from Shawinigan who are already specialized in developing and manufacturing key components for many of our product lines.”
It’s been an unbelievably aggressive summer for BRP. Just four days before the KA Shawinigan deal was unveiled, BRP announced the purchase of a German gear company; in July it announced purchase of a Austrian-based subsidiary of a Chinese company that specialized in electric vehicles; and in June it broke ground on its own new electric-focused Rotax R&D center in Austria.
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