Date: 22. May 2020
Time to read: 3 min
Akrapovič is the market-leading manufacturer of premium exhaust systems for motorcycles and performance cars. It is a pioneer in the innovative use of titanium and super-alloys, and is at the forefront of carbon-fibre components. Akrapovič exhaust systems are renowned for increasing performance, unmistakable sound, innovative design, lightweight construction, quality workmanship, and durability.
- Founded in Slovenia 29 years-ago by former motorcycle racer Igor Akrapovič, the brand has grown to international prominence. Photo: Personal Archives
- Through racing, which has led to winning major world championship titles and setting the highest design standards – leading to Akrapovič winning ten Red Dot awards in the last seven years – Akrapovič is consistently at the forefront of exhaust technology. Photo: Personal Archives
- The technical ability and support Akrapovič provides to MotoGP, WorldSBK and MXGP teams to give them the competitive edge follows the same heritage and knowhow that is transferred into road and off-road systems. Photo: Personal Archives
- Akrapovič is a pioneer in the innovative use of titanium and super-alloys, and is at the forefront of carbon-fibre components. Photo: Personal Archives
Over nearly thirty years of operation, Akrapovič has turned into a world-renowned brand. What was key for its rapid growth and the success and confirmation on the market?
The key factor was our exceptional investment in R&D and cooperation with racing teams, through which we were able to promote our brand across the globe, which in turn increased the customer demand.
It was also vital to offer all of our customers excellent products that are of the same quality as those for the racing teams.
We’ve invested a great deal in R&D and production, as well as marketing and market development. I’d say these are our key advantages over others and I’d like to point out that each and every department is giving its all to deliver high-quality products and maintain the high profile of the company and its brand.
In 2007, you expanded from motorcycles to cars. Was this a deliberate and well-thought-out business move or more of a coincidence and a new challenge? Perhaps a desire to test yourself and seek success in a new field?
It was a deliberate decision. We had already been following the automobile industry before entering the new segment, seeking additional opportunities for the company. We noticed that the automobile market needed high-quality titanium exhaust systems, just like the motorcycle segment several years before. This was a project spanning several years.
We were not very well known in the automobile world and therefore had to follow a similar path as with motorcycles and invest a great deal in racing, R&D, or practically in all the processes, including production.
The car segment also requires different technology, some of the machines are different, and the work approach differs from the motorcycle segment in certain aspects.
- Increased performance, improved throttle response, more power, and greater durability are all directly related to the research, development, and testing that every Akrapovič exhaust is subjected to in the racing arena, giving it a pedigree that few others can match. Photo: Personal Archives
- The company operates from state-of-the-art factories in Slovenia, where facilities include an on-site titanium foundry, metallurgical laboratories, and hi-tech production machinery. Photo: Personal Archives
- Each and every department is giving its all to deliver high-quality products and maintain the high profile of the company and its brand.. Photo: Personal Archives
Two years after that you also built your own foundry and later further expanded your premises by moving production to Črnomelj.
The in-house titanium foundry proved to be key in developing and producing motorcycle and car exhaust systems. Today it’s hard to imagine exhaust systems without the complex components made in this foundry, which also produces items for other industries.
Thanks to new business deals and partners, and the increasing demand in our products, the company has grown in every aspect over the past years, but especially after we opened the Črnomelj business unit.
In the middle of 2015, we moved production to a 20,000 m2 hall in Črnomelj to increase our production capacities, and because of this we were also able to expand the departments that remained at our seat in Ivančna Gorica.
What proportion of your current sales are exhausts for cars and what proportion are for motorcycles?
The ratio changes from one month to the next because of the different projects the company works on. Roughly, the car segment accounts for 30% of our turnover and the motorcycle segment accounts for 70%.
What are your key advantages over your competition?
Especially in R&D, the technology we use, and the highly skilled employees. Everyone at the company works to develop and produce the best products for our customers.
What are the key factors that influence the sales of your products?
We sell our products in over eighty countries across the globe, from the US to Japan, and so the factors vary greatly.
From the emissions standards and the related regulations, which may vary, to taxes on potential imports and the affordability of products on individual markets.
The sales are also influenced by the sales of vehicles on individual markets because some models, for which we have developed exhaust systems, are not sold everywhere. There are really many different factors.
- Akrapovič exhaust systems are renowned for increasing performance, unmistakable sound, innovative design, lightweight construction, quality workmanship, and durability. Photo: Personal Archives
- The car segment accounts for 30% of our turnover and the motorcycle segment accounts for 70%. Photo: Personal Archives
- The most products are sold in Europe, North America, and also Asia, especially China. Photo: Personal Archives
- The brand has received over forty best brand awards in the motorcycle and car exhaust system categories. Photo: Personal Archives
Where do you sell the most products?
We sell the most products in Europe, North America, and also Asia, especially China.
The Akrapovič brand has received several awards. Which ones?
The brand has received over forty best brand awards in the motorcycle and car exhaust system categories from well-known magazines, such as Motorrad, PS, sport auto, and Motorsport Aktuell. These awards, which are voted for by people who buy our products, mean the most to me. They tell us how our products and brand are perceived, and their ratings are completely independent.
The readers of the German Motorrad motorcycle magazine have voted for Akrapovič for the fifteenth year in a row. This year, over 45,000 readers chose Akrapovič as the best brand, accounting for 77% of all votes.
In recent years, we’ve also received the Red Dot product design awards for our entries. The first exhaust system we entered in this competition in 2014 was the titanium exhaust system for the Ducati 1199 Panigale, which received the most prestigious recognition: the Red Dot: Best of the Best Award.
- The in-house titanium foundry proved to be key in developing and producing motorcycle and car exhaust systems. Photo: Personal Archives
- Today it’s hard to imagine exhaust systems without the complex components made in this foundry, which also produces items for other industries. Photo: Personal Archives
- This year, over 45,000 readers chose Akrapovič as the best brand, accounting for 77% of all votes. Photo: Personal Archives
What are your plans and challenges for the future?
There is great demand from various motorcycle and car manufacturers, which I hope we can meet to the greatest extent possible. Development continues to move in the direction of reducing weight and emissions, and improving sound and performance, while also providing an attractive design. Our foundry also works with completely different industries and we plan to further enhance this. In the future we hope to win even more business partners.
The main challenges for the future have to do with the changing economic situation around the world, the increasingly stricter emissions regulations, and the changes in the automobile and motorcycle industries, to which we’ll have to adapt.
What would be your advice to young entrepreneurs who are just starting out on their business journeys?
A vision and an idea are essential, along with their execution, which requires just the right amount of persistence.
It’s important not to give up, it’s persistence that counts.
Like I’ve already mentioned on several occasions, you need to work hard the first six, seven years and not reap the rewards too early because you need to invest in the company and success doesn’t just happen overnight. Many companies die or go bankrupt because they lose focus and their development cycle stops.