Benelli Motorcycles keeps growing in the 2019 with first half figures improved 8.9% and projecting volume close the 50.000 units by year-end. European operations reported impressive growth and now Italy is the most important market, ahead of USA and Argentina.
Running to the Future
Benelli is one of the ancient Italian motorcycles brand. Following a long and troubled story, started in Pesaro in the 1911, the brand has recently found strong hands to fully enhance the technical and design quality and rebuild a reputation and a customer base all over the World.
Benelli is actually part of the Motor Group Qianjiang, a corporation headquartered in Wenling, southeast China. Benelli Q.J. is located in Pesaro, with the same workforce in the same premises as previous proprietor Benelli S.p.A.
Since the Chinese acquisition (2005) the rebuilt of the company required some time and the first results arrived only in the 2015, when sales exceeded the 5.000 units. However since there, the acceleration was huge and the Italian-Chinese Team did a wonderful job on designing, launching and distributing several new models and progressively conquering customer in all the continent, hitting the ever sales level record any year and becoming the best sample of Italian street road motorcycles.
In marketing they have a long way to run, starting from their web presence and they should improve the network quality and design, really wishing to affirm their Italian brand.
In terms of sales, the first results had been achieved far from the home-base. In the 2015, when total sales had been over the 10.000 units, the 61% of Benelli sales were made in ASEAN and only 26% in Europe.
In the following years the global sales growth have been impressive, while the Brand has well covered all the top markets in the World, achieving a 2018 sales record of 43.137 units.
In the first half 2019 sales continue to run fast with a new record of 23.578 units, up 8.9% from the correspondent period in the previous year.
The regional mix is completely changed in these years. Actually the top region is the European Community, representing 39% of the total, while the sales in Latam, ASEAN and Rest of ASIA (China, Japan, Taiwan & Korea) are all around 15%
Actually we track Benelli sales in 72 markets.
Benelli was established in Pesaro, Italy in 1911, and is second oldest European motorcycle factories in operation, after Peugeot Motorcycles, with the difference that Peugeot is not producing motorcycles, but only scooters, while Benelli range is focused on Motorcycles.
In the beginning, it was just the Benelli Garage, which repaired bicycles and motorcycles, but was already able to produce all of the spare parts needed for repairs.
During World War I, Benelli worked hard fixing parts for the Italian machines in war and in 1919 the first motorcycle was presented to the public. In 1920 the company built its first complete engine in-house, a single-cylinder two-stroke 75 cc model, immediately adapted to a bicycle frame. A year later in 1921, Benelli built its first motorcycle, using their own engine which had by then become a 98 cc model.
Two years after that, using a version specially designed for competitions, Tonino “the terrible” took to the track. He displayed an extraordinary natural talent as a rider and embarked on a very successful career which confirmed the company’s exceptional capacity for development and production. Riding a Benelli 175, Tonino Benelli won four Italian championship titles in five years: in 1927, 1928 and 1930 with the single overhead camshaft (SOHC) version, and in 1931 with the double overhead camshaft (DOHC) version. Unfortunately, a bad crash during a race in 1932 cut short his brilliant career and on 27 September 1937 Tonino died following a “silly” road accident.
As World War II loomed, the Benelli company debuted their four-cylinder supercharged 250cc racing bike. This was intended to compete in the 1940 season, building on Benelli’s success in the 1939 Isle of Man TT Lightweight 250 cc race. With the start of the war, the Benelli Four was limited to competition in a handful of Italian domestic races.
Towards the end of the 1960s, the arrival of Japanese manufacturers caused a crisis in the European motorcycle industry. The original Benelli company was heavily involved in the American motorcycle market, selling motorcycles under 350cc through Montgomery Ward. The advent of competition from Japan led to Benelli products (still largely of single cylinder pushrod design) losing popularity as they were perceived as old-fashioned in comparison to Hondas of the era which sported overhead cam engines with electric starters, in much the same way as the British motorcycle manufacturers such as Norton, BSA and Triumph were affected in the larger capacity sector.
Japanese competition is becoming increasingly fierce and technically advanced. The decline was slow and inevitable. In 1988 Benelli was brought to his knees. Mr. Industrial Tycoon Giancarlo Selci, owner of the Biesse group, saved a brilliant company from an uncertain future and bought Benelli on October 23, 1989. The company targeted the scooter market segment with the Devil and Scooty model. It seems that new time has begun, but after the first moments of euphoria, the prospect becomes uncertain.
In 1995, the Fabriano Merloni Group bought most of the historical brands. Andrea Merloni, son of Vittorio, is the leader of new companies and new arrivals arriving with aggressive scooters 491. New ambitious projects, scooters and even sportsbikes: Tornado 900cc three-cylinder which will also compete in the Superbike championship and 1130cc TnT. But Benelli soon faced another new crisis.
In December 2005 Benelli became part of the Chinese QJ Group, located in Wenling where 14,000 people produce more than 1,200,000 vehicles and two million engines per year in a super large modern factory.