BRP Inc. DOO-T is pushing out from cottage country into the city.
The maker of Sea-Doos and Ski-Doos said Friday it has bought an 80-per-cent stake in Pinion GmbH, a developer of mechanical gearboxes for traditional and electric bicycles. The gearboxes are modelled after automobile transmission technology and offer unique cycling dynamics and shifting performance, BRP said.
“Beyond our existing powersports and marine products, we are expanding our addressable market and entering untapped categories such as urban mobility and services,” BRP chief executive José Boisjoli said in a statement. “This acquisition is strategic for us as it enables BRP to leverage Pinion’s unique, state-of-the-art technology in order to spur the development of new electric human-assisted products.”
Valcourt, Que.-based BRP is spending $300-million on an effort to bring battery-powered models to market, starting with an electric motorcycle. The company currently builds off-road vehicles, snowmobiles, personal watercraft and three-wheeled motorcycles that are all gasoline-powered, chiefly at factories in Canada and Mexico. It is also involved in boat manufacturing.
The purchase underscores BRP’s history of acquiring leading technology developers to bolster its own internal innovation work. The company last month closed the purchase of Great Wall Motor Austria GmbH, an electric-vehicle research and development centre specializing in electric drive systems and transmissions.
BRP design chief Denys Lapointe told investors in June that the company will open a new design and research centre in France’s Sophia Antipolis technology park in September focused on concepts aimed at urban mobility and service vehicles. He showed them a slide of the kinds of things his designers are exploring, including a three-wheeled electric bike with a cargo basket at the front and what looked like a tricked-out moped.
BRP has a roughly 30-per-cent share of the $34-billion global powersports market and only a sliver of share at the moment in the $36-billion marine industry, according to a recent research note by National Bank Financial analyst Cameron Doerksen. The company has identified about $70-billion in untapped market opportunities in the broader mobility space that are in the initial stages of investigation, the analyst said.
No purchase price was disclosed for Pinion. The company’s founders, Christoph Lermen and Michael Schmitz, will remain shareholders of Pinion and the company will remain based in Denkendorf, Germany, BRP said.
“We are proud to join such a respected company and look forward to breaking new ground with them,” Mr. Lermen said in the statement, adding the company will continue supplying its more than 100 bicycle manufacturers while at the same time developing next-generation drive solutions.
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