Monday, September 20, 2010

Benelli Scooters in the USA what went wrong?

When Benelli first entered the USA about 3 years ago under the Andretti name I was one of the first that questioned it. I knew the company was broke for years, Mr. Malaguti himself mentioned it to me in 2002 at a trade show since I was always impressed by the design and appeal of the name. I would tell him they sold few scooters, but they had great brand name recognition all over the world. That's all they had he would say. Soon he was right BETA, Benelli, ITALJET, all soon left the market in one bankruptcy or another, but soon after I got out of the scooter business myself the Benelli brand was purchased by the owners of Keeway.

Now the brand had a chance of making a comeback. So when I finally got to meet the great Mario Andretti in 2007 at the Dealer Expo I was amazed that he really didn't know much about what he was getting into, he just wanted that licensing check and maybe a few bucks. Mario's done a great job on appearing on any number of products lately and I was him I would be selling out and people would be using "Scooter Maven" toothbrushes, deodorant, and even kids vitamins if Johnson and Johnson came knocking. So I understand the need to license the name, but Powersport s Factory?

Go three years into the future and we have a situation where not a day goes by that I don't get a phone call from a dealer looking for parts. Normally it goes something like this. We get the CDI from MRP, then we call Sunright and get the plastic, then we try to get warranty from PSF, but they never call us back. I hear this two to three times a day. Haven't heard this story? No surprise Dealer News hasn't mentioned it, nor has any other industry magazine. They won't, because they could alienate potential advertisers. Every month another magazine closes so if you owned a magazine would you want to write something negative about a scooter company in this economy?

I do have to say in this months Dealer News we saw some of the best quotes ever that pretty much define what is going on in the business every day and if I may quote Matthey Camps article here" The 2009 year was an effective one for reducing the number of distributors involved in the market, and 2010 seems set to continue the trend. The market appears to be in the midst of a shakeout where those distributors who have OEM backing or sole rights to distribution are more likely to survive and the distributors who shop around each year for the best deals but can’t support their product are dwindling. The days of small-scale
operations -- importing a couple of containers and retailing them at flea markets or by the side of the road -- are being consigned to history; the scooter market is maturing.
Parts support has been an important issue for Chinese and Taiwanese makes, and in these times when consumers are careful with their hard-earned dollars, the ability to receive service and parts support could mean the difference between a getting a sale or not. "

Only guy in the industry that doesn't care about selling ads right now is Guidos Blog who has reported on PSF Shenanigans in the past he's a great reporter. So I really have no answer for the dealers, consumers out there. I dont know if Keeway North America will take over or Sunright or PIT motors. All I know is the PSF doesn't have a parts warehouse or parts support, they don't pay us to handle warranties, so if I was a dealer I would say they are probably out of the business of selling scooters right now.

Let's see what happens in the coming weeks, maybe Keeway, Sungiht, or QJ will let us all know what the deal with Benelli is for the future and if for once we can stop calling them Andrettis.

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