Ready for the next 50 years
[dropcap]D[/dropcap]riven by a 15 year history in the U.S., a comprehensive range of scooters and small displacement motorcycles, cross-pollination with near-enthusiast markets and a dedicated dealer network, KYMCO has carved out a solid market niche in North America. Among the first companies to recognize the need for “big wheel” scooters and demand for something more substantial than sub-50cc 2-strokes, KYMCO has quietly become synonymous with the commuter market in the U.S. – and that is only half the story!
On the ATV/UTV side, KYMCO is a serious player in terms of both marketshare and vehicle performance. From 70cc to 700cc ATVs and 450cc to 700cc UTVs the KYMCO off-road range is as broad as any of the Japanese Big Four. Its levels of fit and finish are also up to spec given KYMCO (an acronym for Kwang Yang Motor Co. Ltd. headquartered in Kaohsiung, Taiwan), started in 1963 as a joint venture with Honda and spent the first half of its 50+ year history as a manufacturing partner.
KYMCO began marketing its own brand in 1992 and by 2000 had purchased 100 percent of its shares back from Honda, making it one of the largest scooter and ATV manufacturers in the world. Today, KYMCO is the largest OEM in Taiwan, manufacturing scooters, motorcycles and ATVs at five plants in Asia, including its original facility in Kaohsiung, and exporting vehicles to 90 countries around the globe.
However, there are plenty of motor vehicle manufacturers in South East Asia and it is what KYMCO USA has done domestically in the past decade or so that really differentiates the brand. KYMCO USA VP of Sales and Operations Bruce Ramsey recognized early on that the clinical definition of insanity is doing the same thing, the same way over and over again and expecting different results. The method to his madness was to start with complete transparency.
In fact, MPN was among the very first group of U.S. journalists who were invited to Taiwan to see the factory first hand, and understand the sophisticated levels of manufacturing and R&D that make KYMCO products global market leaders. This tradition of transparency continues as MPN editor Brendan Baker dropped in on the factory in Kaohsiung just last year.
Shortly after the journalists received the inside scoop, the fledgling dealer network and prospective dealers (read skeptics) were invited to KYMCO USA headquarters in Spartanburg, South Carolina (MPN crashed that party, too). What we saw was a distribution center with spare parts to service what was sold, repair manuals (in English, no less) and a team of dedicated employees to service U.S. dealers, not just sell container-loads of shoddy 49cc 2-stroke scooters, unlike so many of the fly-by-night scooter companies that proliferated in the pre-2008 boom.
“The same message we delivered back then remains our mission statement to this day,” remembers Rick Pawelka, KYMCO USA’s Director of Marketing. “KYMCO USA is dedicated to building the brand’s reputation and marketshare through superior value, frequent new product introductions, strategic industry partnerships and excellence in dealer network support.”
Keying in on the “strategic industry partnerships” portion of the equation explains why you see KYMCO at over 30 consumer and industry events annually like AIMExpo in Orlando. But the brand has branched out and it is its non-endemic efforts that continue to differentiate KYMCO to this day.
“KYMCO USA is headquartered in the heart of NASCAR country, so we’re quite proud of having been able to align ourselves with historic tracks like the Charlotte Motor Speedway over the years,” says Ramsey of some of their outside the box cross-promotional efforts over the years. Starting with tracks and NASCAR, KYMCO branched out its non-endemic outreach and is currently the official ATV and Scooter of NHRA drag racing as well as the official Scooter and SxS of AMA Pro Racing. “This helps us get in front of non-motorcycle enthusiasts in a positive way,” says Pawelka.
Bottom line is that KYMCO is the real deal. With 50+ years of history, Honda-like levels of fit and finish and an American-based support system for dealers (including spares and manuals now done in partnership with Cyclepedia), and a warranty program, KYMCO has weathered the storm of the 2008 crash and is continuing to gain fans and build the brand. An ever-expanding dealer network currently serves more than 600 U.S. locations and more dealer inquiries are invited!