If you’d talked to anyone selling scooters one year ago, they should have been ecstatic. New unit sales of scooters were up nearly 80 percent in 2008 compared to 2007, with $4-per-gallon pump prices driving cost-conscious consumers to two-wheels in droves.
The MIC just released first quarter sales results for 2009, and results across the board aren’t exactly stellar, especially in the scooter segment: New unit sales across all segments of powersports were down 31.7 percent for the first three months of 2009, while scooters were down 36.7 percent, from 8,402 units in the year-ago quarter to 5,322 in 2009.
While those numbers might make you rethink taking on a scooter line in this precarious market, I’m still of the opinion that as the market begins to recover, scooters are going to represent a growing piece of the pie.
One important thing to remember is that the MIC figures only take into consideration the sales of a few major OEMs. While the Italian and Japanese OEMs do account for a great number of the scooters sold in the U.S., one need only stroll the aisles of Dealer Expo to see the great number of import brands from other Asian nations that aren’t being tallied by the MIC. These units in general sell at much lower price points than the units from the major OEMs, and many brands have begun to rival the big boys when it comes to quality.
If you want to read more about some of the Asian brands MPN recommends, visit www.mpnmag.com, click on Digital Issue to check out Lee Klancher’s feature on Asian imports in the April 2009 issue.
As always, when it comes to signing on to a brand, it’s caveat emptor: so MPN rides along this month as discerning scooter guru/MPN contributor Joel Martin treks to Taiwan for the 4th annual Taiwan International Motorcycle Industry show. The show is overwhelmingly dominated by the latest in scooters and scooter accessories manufactured in Taiwan, and while Joel was in country, he made a visit to the TGB facility.
As I said, TGB and other Asian imports, including the KYMCO brand, are extremely attractive to customers with their low prices and quality manufacture.
Today, many new riders are getting into powersports for economy versus pleasure, and while low gas prices have allowed consumers to keep their sedans on the road a bit longer, I’d bet that when it comes time to retire that gas-guzzler, drivers will explore a more cost-effective option.
The “green” movement also potentially translates into scooter sales. Market your scooter line as the greenest motorized transportation option and you’re sure to pique the interest of the local Prius set. Learn more about today’s top suppliers of scooters at www.mpnmag.com; click on the Buyer’s Guide link and search scooters to get the 411.