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Kawasaki invited us to the intro of their ’03 models. Here are a few photos, along with some words from Kawasaki USA’s Mel Moore and Bob Moffit.

Mel Moore: These are the brand-new 2003 KX 125 and 250 motocross machines. We made enhancements to the motor, chassis, suspension, and implemented weight saving techniques. The machines should be available to the public in late July/early August.

The factory in Japan, combined with our R & D here in the United States, has made tremendous advancement in performance. These bikes are far more advanced than the 2002 models, and we feel are the most changed bikes for 2003.

Mike Fisher and the entire testing team had a big hand in the R & D of these bikes, and that process started in late 2000.

Bob Moffit: We are of course aware there has been some talk about the arrangement between Kawasaki and Suzuki. Our relationship with Suzuki is an alliance. It is not a merger. There has been no exchange of equity between the two companies. It’s a relationship of co-operation based on three areas.

One area is the procurement of components for production. We purchase hundreds of millions of dollars of production parts. Items like tires, fasteners, components, and lighting. Components that can be used commonly.

If thru our combined purchasing power we can negotiate and save even a small percentage with vendors and suppliers, you can see that’s potentially a tremendous amount.

The second area is individual model lines for each company. Is there anything that one can do for the other? We are releasing some models soon that are alliance models. The new KLX 125 is a perfect example. Likewise, down the road Suzuki will release products of the alliance. We are supplying each other with products to help fill out our respective model lines. It will make us more competitive all across the full spectrum of motorcycling.

The third aspect of the alliance is in the future, and that involves the possibility of joint development. We would agree to work jointly in development of certain models. It’s hard to address that fully because it’s in the future, but the overall principal can be understood.

There is no plan for any models to be eliminated. We will continue to market separately and aggressively. There is no co-ordination of marketing or dealerships. It isn’t a financial arrangement of any kind between the two companies.

Many are aware of the numerous examples of inter-company agreements in the automotive industry alliances, such as that involving Honda and Isuzu. That certainly wasn’t a merger, but a product sharing arrangement. In Honda’s case, it appeared as though they wanted to enter a market that they weren’t yet ready to undertake themselves, unless they procured a product from another. Although I am unsure how these companies characterized their relationship at that time, it could be seen as a form of alliance. It’s been done many times in the automotive industry, but this happens to be the first one in the motorcycle industry.

Bob: “Why does Kawasaki make such a large investment in racing?” We ask ourselves that question. Any prudent company would. We’ve studied it. We’ve asked for input from virtually every department within the company, and the agencies we work with. We’ve looked at that question in depth over the years.

A question was asked ‘Does what wins on Sunday sell on Monday?’. To a certain extent, yes, it does. But not always. We do spend a great deal of resources on racing. We don’t race just to win or sell motorcycles. Is winning races enough? No, it’s not enough. We race because we want the products to be superior in every way they can be.

We use racing as a testing and development foundation for making our products better. Every vehicle company that we’ve studied feels the same way. There is no better way to prove and improve your product than to stress it under racing conditions.

Good product guarantees sales, and positive evaluation by the media. You are not going to evaluate our company on how many races we win, but rather how our product performs for you.

So, the answer is twofold – we have to win races, and we have to make a good product.

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Entrance to Kawasaki USA

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The 125

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The 250

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Bob Moffit & Mel Moore

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