Founded in 1923, Motobécane, the French manufacturer of the Mobylette moped, first established itself in Pantin, a suburb of Paris. To keep up with the boom in moped sales after the Second World War, the company to Saint-Quentin, near Paris, in 1951. The site is 340,000 m², and at the company's height in 1974, 5,000 employees worked there producing 750,000 mopeds every year.
In 1984, Yamaha increased its business interest in MBK Industrie upon request of the French Industrial Reconstrution Committee, created to restructure Motobécane. After a management crisis at Motobécane, MBK Industrie became a fully-owned Yamaha subsidiary.
To rebuild MBK in three months-time, Yamaha worked in 1987 with MBK managers to improve production systems, quality control, plant maintenance, and facilities, by coaching MBK Industrie from the sidelines to improve the factory culture. This led to the production of small outboard motors and, in 1990, the iconic Yamaha BW’s (Bi-Wizz) and MBK Booster 50cc models which became the favourite among youngsters across Europe.
From 2004, Yamaha decided to widen the range of its factory potential by starting production of motorcycles with larger displacement, such as the XT660.
In 2012, the Group built on the excellence of the French workforce and took over the assembly of the Yamaha XMAX and the 125 to 400 cc MBK Skycruiser, which led sales in their category. Yamaha modernised tools and invested in new robots (painting, welding) and plastic-injection machines to enable MBK to manufacture the most technical parts itself. Some parts are even painted by cataphoresis, a process similar to electrolysis which gives a perfect finish while limiting paint consumption.
In 2015, Yamaha entrusted MBK Industrie with the production of the XSR700 and then the Tracer 700 the following year. Like for the models of the XT series, the workers produced frames, fairings and exhausts.
By assigning the construction of its motorcycles to the French workforce, Yamaha demonstrated the trust and respect it places in the factory’s skills. Indeed, at 689cc, the XSRs and the Tracer 700 are the largest displacement motorbikes manufactured in mainland France.
Today, the factory has 544 employees and a highly qualified workforce, which has been twice recognised with awards in 1994 and 2001 from the TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) label and has earnt the ISO 9001 (quality) and ISO 14001 (environment) certifications. It has a low staff turnover, with workers staying at the factory for an average of 18 years.
With twenty-two XSR700s produced an hour, the factory has proven that it has an optimum production capacity. In 2019, almost 72,000 two-wheeled motor vehicles rolled off the production lines at Saint-Quentin, including 28,300 motorcycles and 38,000 scooters over 125cc.
With these figures, the MBK factory takes the lead as top producer of two-wheeled motor vehicles in France.
Yamaha "Made in France"
- XMAX 125
- XMAX 125 Tech MAX
- XMAX 300
- XMAX 300 Tech MAX
- XMAX 400
- XMAX 400 Tech MAX
- Ténéré 700
- Tracer 700
|1951||Founding of the Motobécane factory in Saint-Quentin, Aisne|
|1984||Motobécane becomes MBK Industrie|
|1986||Yamaha becomes primary shareholder|
|1988||First outboard motor|
|1990||First scooter (Booster 50cc)|
|1996||ISO 90001v 1994 certification|
|2000||Yamaha becomes sole shareholder|
|First 125cc scooter|
|First four-stroke outboard motor|
|2002||ISO 14001 certification|
|First 250cc scooter|
|2003||ISO 9001v 2000 certification|
|2004||First Yamaha XT660|
|2012||Transfer of production from the Spanish factory|
|2013||125 to 400cc XMAX|
|2014||R125 and MT-125|