Sportbike manufacturer EBR Motorcycles is winding down production operations this week — just one year after relaunching the business — and only three months after announcing a retail finance partnership with ThunderRoad Financial.
“I think it is a sad day for sportbike enthusiasts,” said Donal Hummer Jr., president and chief executive of ThunderRoad Financial. “Eric Buell and the rest of the team at EBR were unequaled in design, engineering, and passion for motorcycling. It is a shame to see such a well-designed and American-built motorcycle stop production. We were proud to be partnered with them, even if for a short period of time, and wish them all the best.”
ThunderRoad Financial will still continue financing the remaining stock of EBR Motorcycles for the dealers and their customers, Hummer told Powersports Finance.
“The decision was a tough one for EBR, as it has been solely focused on the growth [of the company] and building EBR for success,” according to a statement issued by EBR. “The team at EBR has worked tirelessly making every effort to build the company. There is no fault on any of the team at EBR for this decision.”
The shutdown was based primarily on EBR facing “significant headwinds with signing new dealers,” according to the statement.
The manufacturer has 15 dealers; its goal was to reach 40 dealers by yearend, EBR’s Chief Executive Steve Smith told Powersports Finance in August 2016. However, by December, the OEM still only had about 15 dealers, Owner Bill Melvin told Powersports Finance at the New York Progressive International Motorcycle Show.
In addition, EBR had limited production in 2016, and 2017 was “under goal,” the company said. “The combination of slow sales and industry announcements of other major OEM brands closing, or cutting production, only magnified the challenges faced by EBR.” For example, Polaris Industries Inc. announced earlier this month that it will immediately begin winding down its Victory Motorcycles brand after 18 years of investing in the motorcycles.
EBR Motorcycles is the sequel to Buell Motorcycle Co. which Harley-Davidson Inc. owned for more than a decade before dropping the brand in 2009. Shortly after, Erik Buell founded EBR in 2010. EBR shutdown in April 2015, after it filed for Chapter 128 receivership — a voluntary debt consolidation plan and a state court procedure similar to bankruptcy — according to a published report.
In January 2016, the OEM was acquired by Liquid Asset Partners in an auction. EBR Motorcycles relaunched in March 2016 and was poised to make a comeback. EBR launched a floorplan financing captive, EBR Motorcycles Floorplan Program, in July 2016. Additionally, ThunderRoad Financial partnered with the OEM in November 2016, to offer retail financing to participating EBR dealers.
EBR Motorcycles “will continue to honor warranties and provide technical and parts support to current dealers and riders who bought motorcycles manufactured by EBR,” according to the statement. “EBR will continue to review strategic alternatives with interested investors regarding production operations.”
The remaining 2017 and 2016 EBR motorcycles are available from EBR’s top dealers, and the EBR liquidation of production equipment and excess parts will occur in March.
EBR Motorcycles did not comment by press time.