Posts Tagged ‘Kawasaki’

Feds Investigate Chinese IPR Theft

May 7, 2010

Hearing Scheduled for June 15, 2010.
It’s an Opportunity To Tell Your Story.

Another federal agency has joined the battle on Chinese manufacturers who are selling illegal goods in the U.S. First, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) took aim at Chinese with its child safety provisions, then the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) began grabbing containers of Chinese powersports products as they entered U.S. ports looking for emissions violations.

Now the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) has launched an investigation into the effects of intellectual property rights (IPR) infringement on the U.S. economy and U.S. jobs. The investigation was requested by the Senate Finance Committee.

The investigation will study violations of copyrights, patents, trademarks, and design registrations.

The ITC  will  publish its findings in two reports. The first will provide a description of the types of reported IPR infringement and China’s related policies on procurement of “indigenous innovation” which could limit the sale of U.S. products within China. This could be of special interest to U.S. companies such as Polaris and Harley-Davidson as they attempt to expand into the Chinese consumer markets.

The second report could be much more explosive. It will describe the size and scope of IPR infringement by Chinese companies and the effect of these actions on U.S. jobs and on the sales and profits of U.S. companies. In addition to Polaris, Harley and Arctic Cat, among others, these companies include U.S. operations of Japanese companies such as Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha, according to an ITC official.

Depending upon how broadly the ITC wants to define U.S. companies, it could include most powersports companies doing business here, including OEMs such as BRP, KTM, Piaggio and Triumph, as well as aftermarket companies.

The report on types of IPR infringement is due by Nov. 19, 2010, and the second— on the impact of these infringements— is due May 2, 2011.

In requesting the investigation, Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) wrote that more than 80 percent of goods seized at U.S. ports for IPR infringements came from China. He also noted that intellectual property accounts for more than 40 percent of U.S. economic growth.

As part of the investigation, the USITC will hold a public hearing  on June 15, 2010. Written comments also will be accepted. All written submissions, except for confidential business information, will be available for public inspection.

I’ve been hearing for years about how Chinese manufacturers steal designs and produce replicas of popular machines and PG&A items made by U.S.,  Japanese and other manufacturers. Now is your chance to step forward and describe how your products have been illegally copied and how you have been financially injured.

If you’re concerned about dealing with the ITC but want to tell your story, contact me. I can get your information to the ITC.

Here is important information if you wish to submit comments to the ITC:

DATES
June 1, 2010: Deadline for filing requests to appear at the public hearing.
June 3, 2010: Deadline for filing pre-hearing briefs and statements.
June 15, 2010: Public hearing.
June 22, 2010: Deadline for filing post-hearing briefs and statements.
July 9, 2010: Deadline for filing all other written submissions.
Nov. 19, 2010: First report due to the Senate Finance Committee.
May 2, 2011: Second report due to the Senate Finance Committee.

ADDRESSES
All Commission offices, including the Commission’s hearing rooms, are located in the United States International Trade Commission Building
500 E Street SW, Washington, DC.
All written submissions should be addressed to the Secretary, United States International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20436.

The public record for this investigation may be viewed here.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Project Leaders: Katherine Linton (katherine.linton@usitc.gov or 202-205-3393) and Alexander Hammer (alexander.hammer@usitc.gov or 202-205-3271) or Deputy Project Leader Jeremy Wise (jeremy.wise@usitc.gov or 202-205-3190).
Analyst, John Kitzmiller (John.Kitzmiller@usitc.gov or 202-205-3387).  JD

Contact me with news tips or story ideas at
jdelmont@dealernews.com or 952/893-6876.

FirstGear TPG Apparel Road Test: There Will be Rain

February 22, 2010

Back in the fall, we had a chance to head out to Colorado with Tucker Rocky and FirstGear to check out the TPG lineup of apparel. This is pretty high-end stuff aimed at the hardcore adventure touring rider, the type of person who thinks nothing of clocking 50,000 miles a year on two-wheels, often in less-than-pristine conditions. I am not one of those people. However, I was up for a dual-sport ride through the Rockies with the chance of experiencing some weather and putting the TPG duds to the test. Well, we got weather. Rain. Sleet. Hail. All that stuff that’s mostly foreign to So Cal natives (me!). 

So, you’ve got to hand it to Tucker Rocky and FirstGear for picking a such a route and ride as a way to showcase the features of its TPG (Technical Performance Gear) apparel. They either had strong foresight into what we might encounter or had some major pull with certain parties to arrange that kind of weather.

Click here for the full story.

Research Shows Changing Dealer Networks

December 22, 2009

There’s been a lot of talk this year about changes in the number and types of franchised dealers operating in the United States and Canada, but there’s been precious little data to back up the talk. Until now.

I’ve been going over some very interesting research developed by Don Musick and his company, Genesys Technology Solutions (GenesysTech). The data collected by Musick shows that the major OEMs lost dealers last year while the non-traditional manufacturers — basically Chinese and Taiwanese and other non-MIC suppliers — picked up ground.

It’s like the frog dropped into a pot of water that gradually heats up to boiling, says Musick. The majors don’t recognize that the Chinese dealers are surrounding them with experienced retailers and are getting ready to eat their lunch.

Don Musick

I’ve traveled to China and seen the potential of Chinese factories, and I realize that most of them have a lot of problems as far as succeeding in this market, But, still, Musick makes a pretty strong statement, one that’s worth considering when we talk about the changing dealer network and what it might look like in 2010 and 2011.

Musick founded GenesysTech in 2004 and began collecting dealer information in powersports, auto and a number of other industries. There’s nothing magic about how Musick comes up with his numbers; it’s just a lot of hard work and computer analysis.

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Vendors That Compete Against Their Own Dealers

October 18, 2009

BrokenChainWhy has the industry allowed so many vendors to compete against their own dealers through online sales? Shouldn’t everyone respect the supply channel? Or do some vendors have legitimate reasons for selling directly?

Two years ago, I was attending an annual meeting of MIC members when a guest speaker told the 200 assembled vendors that they all should be selling online. “The most important way for the aftermarket to sell is the Internet,” the market analyst said. “Companies used to be worried about how it would affect their retail establishments. That way of thinking has gone by the wayside.”

This comment surprised me. When the analyst asked for questions, I asked whether he believed motorcycle dealers in particular no longer cared whether their suppliers sold directly. He gave a quick affirmative and left the stage.

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Erpelding, Europe’s Keeper of Classic Race Bikes

September 29, 2009

Are you a racebike enthusiast? Happen to be planning a trip to the Nuerburgring in Germany?

erpeldingIf so, you may want to visit former motorcycle and auto dealer and racer Frithjor Erpelding, a man who claims to have the second largest private museum in Europe dedicated to race motorcycles. Located in the Eifel mountain hamlet of Jammelshofen, near the ‘Ring, the museum houses 200-some bikes and a half-dozen of his championship-winning race cars.

Among the units on display: AJS, Aprilia, Ariel, Bimota, BSA, CZ, Egli, Gilera, NSU, Koenig, Moto Parilla, Moto Guzzi, MV Agusta, Matchless, Maico, Triumph, Norton, Greeves, Jawa, Puch, Wanderer, Harris, BSS, Benelli, Laverda, Royal-Enfield, Harley-Davidson, Horex, Honda, Gilera, Kawasaki, Kreidler, Linto, Suzuki, Scott, Seley, Yamaha, Rickman, KTM, Ducati, Montessa, NSU, Vincent, Velocette and Zuendapp, etc.

I asked Erpelding which of the 200 units is his favorite. “The Norton,” he replied without pause. Erpelding has two Norton Manx. “The chairman of Cambridge University recently contacted me, asking if I would sell one of my Manx. I told him ‘No’. He offered Euro 100,000 and I declined. Then he offered Euro 200,000 and I again declined. Finally, I cut to the chase and told him I wouldn’t be selling the bike no matter what the price.”

MuseumBut, Erpelding is willing to sell certain units. He says he recently sold a Vincent to a collector in the United States for Euro 80,000. “He deposited the check in my bank account before even receiving the bike. I called and asked him why he trusted me, and he said, ‘I’ve heard you’re a trustworthy guy’.”

Erpelding is a fella who loves telling his stories. If you’re planning a visit, be sure to leave time to have beer at his Race Museum Bar. He’ll tell you about his run-ins with racer Agostini and Yamaha bosses; his thoughts on Triumph, MZ and KTM; his trips to Goodwood; and his days of racing Honda motorcycles and cars.

Check out Erpelding’s website, which features the full line-up of the museum’s bikes on display.

Exclusive: FMF Working on Pipe for Ducati Streetfighter

June 19, 2009

We at Dealernews previously reported how well-known off-road exhaust specialist FMF has been planning to increase its emphasis on the on-road market with its APEX line of exhausts. Today I received a spy shot of the exhaust specialist’s latest project: a carbon fiber offering for the new Ducati Streetfighter.
FMF_streetfightersneak2
“The APEX line is doing quite well in terms of market penetration, but our product for Ducati has been particularly well accepted,” FMF National Sales Manager Doug Muellner told me earlier today. I called Doug after a source sent me a covert shot of the still-in-progress pipe.

“We want the APEX line to be as well-known as our other products,” Doug told me a few months ago. “Off-roaders know the FMF name, and so we want to build the APEX name to be equally as recognizable in the sportbike market.”

FMF offers three types of sportbike pipe – the Powercore S, Powercore GP and APEX – and plans to put more energy into marketing its offerings.

The APEX exhaust comes in carbon or titanium, slip-on or full, and single and dual systems; the Powercore GP is a MotoGP-type titanium race pipe, and the Powercore S line is available in titanium and aluminum and comes with a titanium mid-pipe (if applicable).
FMF_LOGO
FMF’s other new applications include product for the 2009 Ducati Monster 1100, 696, 848, 1098, 1198 and 1198S; Honda CBR1000RR and CBR600RR; Kawasaki ER-6N, Ninja 250R, Ninja 650R, ZX-6R and ZX-10R; KTM 690 SMC; Suzuki GSX-R600, GSX-R750, GSX-R1000 and Hayabusa; and Yamaha R6 and R1.

Victory Lays Down the Hammer … S

June 15, 2009

I picked up a 2009 Victory Hammer S from Polaris HQ today, June 15. I’ve noticed this particular bike is about Victory performance, and that my sportbike has tire envy.

2009 Victory Hammer S

2009 Victory Hammer S

After rolling 200 miles during the first few hours after pick-up, I do have a few qualms about riding position (see future posts). Of course, I’m traditionally more of a sportbike rider, so anything I ride foot-first seems a bit odd.

Still, this is the best of the four Victory I’ve ridden for an extended period of time. It accelerates impressively (for (more…)

2009 Marks Ninja’s 25th Anniversary

June 10, 2009

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Kawasaki’s “Ninja” brand name, a name that has become globally synonymous with sport bikes.

Industry icon and Dealernews columnist Mike Vaughan led the Ninja revolution as director of marketing for Kawasaki Motor Corp., USA from 1979 to 1990. Dealernews recently talked with Vaughan to learn how the Ninja name became a mainstay in the motorcycle marketplace.

Here’s the story Vaughan has to tell:

“The Ninja, as I recall, was sort of a surprise for us, in that we hadn’t really asked for it — not that everything we had to sell was something we’d asked for, but the Ninja, or what was to become the Ninja, really bowled us over.

“In 1979, they showed us the first GPzs, and I suggested then that we call them ‘Ninja.’ The Japanese blew it off, and frankly my colleagues weren’t crazy about it either. So the name retired to a folder until the GPz900 was revealed to us (by us, I mean the guys who were on the ‘product planning’ committee).

“We probably saw the first examples of the bike maybe in late ’82. It seemed to me that this really was the Ninja, and I began campaigning for the adoption of the name. “At about the same time, we switched advertising agencies. The old agency, which had had the account for a number of years, was on my side with regard to the name. But the new agency, wanting to establish their creds, proposed calling it the …

Visit Dealernews.com for the entire story.

1984 Ninja 900R

1984 Ninja 900R

Ecowatercraft Hopes to Offer Electric PWC

June 4, 2009

EcoWatercraft is a company planning to be the first all electric personal watercraft manufacturer to go into production.
eco_logo
The company is the brainchild of founder Barrett Taylor. Taylor says, as a collegiate triathlete, he often swam amongst extremely heavy fumes expelled from the personal watercraft patrolling the swim site – something that coaxed him to look more closely at the health implications of breathing in toxic fumes and served as inspiration to assemble a team dedicated to bringing an electric personal watercraft to market.

Why electric? According to Taylor, the ECO emits no emissions, operates in complete silence, expands PWC use by being permitted on many lakes that restrict gasoline vehicles, benefits from acceleration inherent in electric vehicles, and offers convenience by requiring no fuels, oil or maintenance.

Sounds good, right? Many “green” blogs and websites appear to think so. However, there are a couple of statements that show a glaring lack of industry knowledge.

First, EcoWatercraft claims it “will be the first American personal watercraft corporation.” In fact, Minnesota-based powersports manufacturers Arctic Cat and Polaris were in the market years ago.

Second, Ecowatercraft says it “will provide the most customer oriented experience in the personal watercraft industry.” Dubious, since they’ll first have to gain the financial strength equal to or greater than companies like Kawasaki, Yamaha, BRP and Honda. Plus, they’ll likely be selling through the same dealers as those other OEMs.

Finally, Ecowatercraft, throughout its marketing literature, uses Kawasaki’s trademarked “JetSki” name in lieu of the general term of “personal watercraft.” A rookie mistake, for sure.

Texas Bill Requires Training For “High-Performance” Bike Buyers

April 21, 2009

Legislation being considered in Texas would force those who purchase a “high-performance” motorcycle to take a training course within six months of the purchase.
texas
HB 4531, if voted into law, would force all owners and operators of a high performance motorcycle purchased on or after September 1, 2009 to show proof of course attendance upon the request of law enforcement. Violators would be fined between $500 and $1,000.

According to bill sponsor Rep. Norma Chavez (D-El Paso), a “high-performance motorcycle” is any motorcycle “referred to, called, labeled, or described as a ‘sports bike’, ‘sports motorcycle’, ‘high performance motorcycle’, or other similar term, in any materials given to an original purchaser at the time of purchase from any retail seller or contained in the owners manual or guides from the manufacturer.”

The bill is currently being debated in the House Public Safety committee.