Though countless Asian companies manufacture powersports units, I’d hesitate to call many of them OEMs. It may be true that a company that knocks out boatloads of knock-off 50cc scooters may be a manufacturer by definition; however, to be a real powersports OEM, a company’s got to have more than just the product. In my opinion, they must have their own R&D department, a range of models, spare parts availability, service after the sale, warranty and a real relationship with dealers and the aftermarket. KYMCO meets these demands, and while they don’t have the market penetration of the Japanese OEMs, this Taiwanese import has the chops to hold on for a long ride.
Another factor that separates KYMCO from the herd of Asian wannabes is its longevity. When I asked director of marketing Rick Pawelka what sets the brand apart from other Asian imports, his reply was straightforward. “History, for one thing,” he says. “KYMCO has been building scooters and motorcycles since 1963. They’re in the U.S. market for the long haul.”
If you’ve taken on a brand of budget scooters only to see it go the way of the dodo, you’ve learned an important lesson on staying power. KYMCO is unique in that its units ring in at a very reasonable retail that can give some of those fly-by-night operators a run for their money, but you get the peace of mind knowing that the company will still be in operation when another selling season turns the corner.
KYMCO wouldn’t have its staying power without the backing of quality manufacturing processes. “We’ve seen lots of articles published by the U.S. press who have made the trip to Taiwan and toured some of the many KYMCO manufacturing facilities,” says Pawelka. “They always come away impressed to see the same manufacturing processes and procedures in place as the larger OEMs in the industry.” MPN has made the rounds to KYMCO’s facilities in Taiwan, and agree that the standards they have in place rival any other OEM we’ve seen.
I’m also impressed with KYMCO’s growing product lineup. KYMCO USA unleashed its newest models at its first-ever dealer meeting held in Greenville, S.C., this spring. The company’s newest models include the UXV 500 side-by-side and the MXU 375 4×4 IRS ATV, as well as a whole host of scooters, including the fuel-injected Xciting 500Ri and 250Ri, the Sento 50 and Sting 50, and the Super 8 50 and 150. In addition to these new highlights, KYMCO’s stable of scooters and a healthy selection of both sport and utility ATV units, the brand also features the 250cc Venox motorcycle, which might just score some sales in your store, as 250cc sales have seen an incredible boost in 2008 as a result of soaring gas prices.
A dealer meeting was a big step in raising KYMCO’s status as an OEM with real footing on American soil. The meeting came just months after STR Motorsports changed its name to KYMCO USA. The USA crew says that the name change was to make the ties between KYMCO Taiwan and its U.S. partner even stronger. In July 2006, the Taiwanese parent company bought a 50 percent share of KYMCO USA. “The name change is evidence of an even closer relationship,” said Eric Bondy, president and CEO of KYMCO USA. “We are not a distributorship or their U.S. agent. We are part of the company.”
As part of that company, “KYMCO USA has grown into a valued OEM with almost 700 dealers in the U.S. and Puerto Rico that offer KYMCO products, service, support and parts,” said Pawelka.
On the back end of the sale, not only does KYMCO offer reliable coverage through its online parts and warranty systems, but on the four-wheel side, its giving dealers a wider range of P&A sales through its relationship with Kolpin Powersports. KYMCO USA has begun distribution of the full line of Kolpin ATV/UTV accessories through its dealer network. In phase two, Kolpin will develop specialized packages that are specific to the new KYMCO models MXU 375 4×4 and UXV 500 side-by-side. KYMCO and Kolpin will then go on to jointly develop proprietary accessories, which are to be co-branded.
“We are very pleased to partner with an industry leader like Kolpin,” said Bondy. “We’ve been developing a strategy to offer our dealers best-in-class products, and Kolpin is clearly a great choice to assist us in solidifying this strategy.”
Tom Lutes, president and CEO of Kolpin Powersports, echoed Bondy’s enthusiasm, “When we decided to strategically go after an import brand as an additional avenue in the market, KYMCO was the only one we considered. That’s a testament to what they have achieved as far as credibility. They were our first target and our only target.”
Pawelka says that the Kolpin deal is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to aftermarket P&A for KYMCO products. Givi offers up fitments for top cases, you can order up KYMCO exhaust systems from Power Pros Racing Exhaust Systems and Powroll dishes up performance parts.
KYMCO USA has success in the American marketplace because it’s not just another importer. With working offices in the U.S. boasting an R&D team working in the U.S. trenches, KYMCO USA sets itself apart as a true OEM, and could set your dealership ahead of the pack. Visit KYMCO online at www.kymcousa.com for more news and information.