Archive for December 2nd, 2008

Scootering and scooters — the Vespa Way

December 2, 2008

OK, so I’m a sucker for anything Vespa. With that said, Vespa USA’s new Web site is pretty interesting.vespapic11
It features a pretty cool section called Community Rides, which features user-generated ride maps. I haven’t had a chance to check out all the local So Cal routes, but did notice that a couple of them are suggestions on navigating Los Angeles’ — and by Los Angeles, I mean the West Side — infamous gridlock. These routes are almost as useful and interesting as any number of suggested rides through mountainous twisties.

There’s also a powerful dealer locator that not only lists dealers by zip code or city, but also Google Maps each dealership for the viewer’s pleasure.vespapic21

Beginners can follow the “Six easy steps to getting on the road with my Vespa” and other advice on owning and maintaining a Vespa.

But the kicker for me, because I’m an admitted Vespa geek and scooter nut, is the Heritage and History page. Here you can view a timeline of the history of these Italian beauties, view old advertising copy and see a little about this bike my all-time favorite Vespa model.

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Piaggio has really kicked into high gear its growth plan for the U.S. For more info on its brands read here, here and here.

HSBC and Suzuki Call It Quits

December 2, 2008

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Beginning Jan. 1, banking giant HSBC will stop underwriting Suzuki’s retail finance loans. See our report here.

As far as I know, this could be good or bad for Suzuki dealers. We’ll have to see what bank or banks take over the revolving and installment accounts. Who knows, perhaps standards will loosen and rates fall.

No word on why the decision was made, or on who played the bigger part in making it. It does seem HSBC wasn’t happy with the amount of revolving credit being issued to Suzuki, Kawasaki, Polaris and Yamaha customers. From my coverage of the Kawasaki dealer meeting this past summer: “An HSBC rep told Dealernews that about four times more customers opt for revolving credit than for an installment loan. HSBC would like to see a shift toward installment loans, which often are more customer-friendly in the long run.”

HSBC bought Illinois-based lender Household International in 2005. Household has been in the powersports industry for more than 30 years.