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KTM's four-wheeled future

Mon, 25 Feb 2008 00:00:00 -0800

By Ben Purvis

Motor Industry

25 February 2008 11:26

KTM's X-Bow track day car is just the start of a five-model line-up that will include Dakar and Le Mans endurance racers. Stefan Pierer, the youthful-looking 51 year-old CEO of KTM, has revealed to CAR how he intends to turn his company into the Austrian equivalent of Lotus.

The unveiling of the production version of the Audi-engined, carbon-monocoque X-Bow at the Geneva Motor Show on March 4 2008 is exactly one year on from the first showing of the prototype. It's also the first in a series of moves that will catapult KTM into prominence as a serious car maker.

'We think we can define a new niche within the sports car segment, doing something that Lotus used to do 20 years ago or more,' Pierer revealed. 'Lotus has moved away from that area, but the market still exists.'

Although the first few carbon-fibre monocoques will be made by race car builders Dallara, production of the X-Bow is set to move to Austria as soon as possible. Pierer says: 'We are producing the car ourselves. At the moment we are refurbishing a factory facility and we will start production mid-year. Initially, we will build 800-1000 cars each year. We already have 2000 orders for the X-Bow, and 300 of them have put down 10,000 Euro (£7500) deposits.'

Pierer might be new to car construction, but he’s planning to follow the same modular route with the X-Bow as he uses on KTM’s two-wheeled offerings – where each engine and chassis design forms the basis of an entire range of machines.

'Although it’s a simple car,' he says, 'it’s still very complicated compared to a superbike. We must have some other models based on the same monocoque to make it profitable. We are starting with the X-Bow, which goes on sale this year, followed by a version for the FIA GT championship, in the GT4 Light class. In 2009, we will launch a new version of the X-Bow, with a roof and doors, and then a version based on the 330bhp engine from the Audi S3.'

The GT4 Light machine, which will make its debut as a prototype at the opening round of the FIA GT championship at Silverstone in April, follows Pierer’s mantra of offering exactly the same equipment to customers as works-backed racers use. 'The GT4 Light class car makes for a very efficient possibility to go racing,' he explains, 'for a Porsche or a Lamborghini racing in the same series, you would have to pay three times as much. We will launch the GT4 Light production car in autumn this year, but prototypes are already testing and we will have our first race as a prototype at Silverstone.'

By Ben Purvis