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Dec 29, 2001

Why Does Europe Get Bikes Before The U.S.?

Copyright 2001, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc.

By David Swarts

During the press briefing for the 2002-model VFR800Fi-VTEC at American Honda headquarters in Torrance, California, Honda employees mentioned that European dealers would receive their VFR800s and their CBR954RRs before American dealers. Before becoming a motojournalist, I always wondered why that was so, but never read the question asked or answered anywhere.

So after the briefing, I asked American Honda's outgoing Manager of Motorcycling Press, Pete terHorst, why does Europe get bikes before the United States?

"We're a global manufacturer, but we market in regional and local markets," explained terHorst. "A given model that Honda comes out with will be design-driven by the market that sells the most of them. An Interceptor is a good example.

"In Europe, it's a hugely popular motorcycle. It does well in the U.S., but they sell, I'm guessing, four times as many (in Europe). So as a result the European market drives the design more. They usually get more pop on the press units when they do come, and actually their production run will begin before ours will begin, anywhere from four to six weeks early depending on where the Christmas holidays fall.

"We constantly go through a negotiating process on models that we sell significantly well here, as well as Europe. For example, 600 sport models, 929, 954s. This year, Europe's got their launches earlier on the 954 than we do. That's just one of the things that we have to deal with. Their production run fell about eight weeks before ours did. That's really why. The same thing applies to the ST1300."