Thursday, March 24, 2011

MIC gets named checked in new Scooter Sales Articles

I just saw this figure again in an article from the Houston Chronicle from the MIC.

The funny thing is I mentioned this at Dealer Expo at our seminar this year how the numbers don't add up the least bit. It was a great moment at the show when I basically put it out there, I never reported to the MIC any of the 10,000 units I imported between 2000-2005. My father never reported any of the vehicles he imported estimated between 4,000 and 6,000 ( nobody knows sometimes it would take four scooters in parts to make one new Honda Joker ) Doug from Tomos was in the audience and you can hear him in the video below say he never reported to the MIC.

At the show this year two sales guys from a competitor told me straight up their boss didn't think United Motors had sold anything, that where were the bikes. My response was "wouldn't you like to know..." the truth is everyone would, but thats the point. Companies like CPI, United Motors, Diamo, Italjet, never ever reported to anyone. So unless you took their filling cabinet and Excel sheets and spent your nights looking at sales figures like someone I know, the truth is you're in the dark much like the MIC.

So at most what we have is estimates. Puerto Rico went from 12,000 units to 150,000 in a matter of two years. Now a third of those units say in warehouses from 2007 until 2010 and a few thousand were re-exported to the USA. I just saw some of the 250cc Wuxi scooters from a failed San Juan importer at the auction in Philly going for $400 a piece ( 2006 VINs ) the other issue is Hawaii and Guam. Nobody really counts them and customs pretty much lets anything in those markets.

The other issue is grey market. Last year I reported the dumping going on from Canada. The importers up there have had it worse than in the USA. So you have brands like Peugeot which has vowed never to export to America because of our unlimited liability court system and here they were on sale. The Scooter Scoop was the first to report the 300 plus SYM units that did not belong to Carter at the auctions where you had HD 200cc units going for $500 to the public without a title because they came from Canada -NO EPA, No American certificate and let me be clear not covered by Carters Product Liability Insurance. These grey market bikes are not counted by anyone. I keep getting reports from people when someone calls me at the office looking for a Malaguti 250cc part or a Malaguti 400cc part and I ask how the hell they got that in the country? They tell me in parts. I never imported those units yet people have them in their collections.

At Amerivespa this year I saw my first Gillera GP800cc in the US market. Same thing it was a grey market.

So to put it mildly nobody really knows. Not US Customs, definitely not EPA ( we are overcompensating for ten years of no enforcement now ) and the MIC can only guesstimate if you're kind and fill out the form they send you every now and then.

I personally know some Chinese importers that did between 20 and 30k pieces a year in 2007 and 2008. You add up every single scooter sold by Kymco, Genuine, SYM, TGB and it doesn't add up to what one Chinese importer in Texas did. I know there's a lot of hype from certain brands, but a few Chinese players do more than four or five MIC members combined in the 49cc - 150cc range that is dominated now by mainland players.

So how big is the US Scooter market. Nobody knows. Can you buy a Grey Market Peugeot in North Carolina from Canada right now? Yes. Can you buy a 400cc Malaguti probably, a Gillera more than likely. Are they legal. No way.

Are the Chinese still selling 90cc scooters as 49cc. Yes, every single day. For every container EPA and Customs stops two or three get in. They only have two people checking so can they keep track? Is it fair. Nope. Does the MIC talk to those guys? Sometimes, but by the time we realize there's a problem they go out of business much like Powersports Factory did and you can't go after people if they go out of business. Same applies to the Chinese importers that change names every year, they never report nor comply they just close the company in California and move to Texas. So we'll never know how many 90cc Scooters were imported and sold as 49cc in 2007, 2008, 2009, or 2010.

So expect to see this in the press the next few months as the gas hype figures appear, but the truth is I would say we under counted 2007 and 2007 by 200,000 plus units. 2011 could be anyones guess since many players have come back under different names. 


When fuel prices rose in 2008, scooters had a record U.S. sales year, and some dealers are expecting another big year in 2011 as gasoline again nears $4 a gallon. Annual scooter sales:
2000 42,000
2001 50,000
2002 70,000
2003 83,000
2004 96,000
2005 120,000
2006 131,000
2007 157,000
2008 228,000
2009 85,000
2010* 77,000
*Preliminary estimate
Source: Motorcycle Industry Council

Everyone talking about the numbers See video:

GILLERA GP 800cc I mentioned in case you've never seen it ( I wish they would bring them in as Gillera and not Aprilias or Piaggios for the US I really do )

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