Saturday, January 30, 2010

MRP Grows in Down Market

Article Reprinted from Guido Eberts Powersports Blog

U.S. Scooter Industry Experiences Downturn

While 2008 marked a high point for scooter sales in the United States, the scooter industry in 2009 experienced many changes with several brands filing bankruptcy, modifying their operations or leaving the market entirely.

Scooter sales through the first nine months of 2009 were down 62 percent or 42,939 units compared to the first nine months of 2008, according to figures compiled by the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), the trade organization representing sales of its members, including Aprilia, Honda, Piaggio, Suzuki, Vespa and Yamaha. MIC members sold 26,288 scooters during the first nine months of 2009, down from 69,227 units during the same nine-month period in 2008.

But the MIC member brands are only a fraction of all scooters sold in the U.S. A plethora of other brands, most sourced from China and other countries in Asia, have also had a rough go of it. For them, economic difficulties have forced a wide range of responses: Taiwan’s TGB plans to establish a TGB office stateside to take care of EPA, CPSC and regulatory work and is seeking a potential partner; SUNL, a large well-known Chinese scooter brand, recently regrouped under a new name, Massimo Motors; Tank Sports, Inc. closed its operation; and Power Sports Factory, selling bikes under the Andretti brand name, continues to be involved in a funding quagmire.

“Not since Daelim closed its doors in late 2008 has such upheaval been occurring in the U.S. scooter market,” says my friend Joel Martin, owner of Martin Racing Performance (MRP). “All in all, the boom of 2008 – boosted by high fuel prices – experienced a downturn in 2009.”

Martin is the former importer of Malaguti scoots, MH Motorcycles and SYM scooters, and has most recently focused on importing and distributing replacement and performance parts. This year his company expanded by acquiring the warehouse and store of Keeway Southeast and parts from Diamo, CPI USA and TNG.

Martin says most of the analysts he has talked with agree that scooter sales will not soon return to the numbers experienced in early 2008, “with some predicting slower sales in 2010 unless consumer lending and high gas prices return.”


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