Posts Tagged ‘OEM’

Are Consumers Getting Ready To Buy Bikes?

March 3, 2010

Pent Up Demand May Be Stronger Than We Thought.
Is a Bike Rebate Program Necessary?

Is there enough pent up demand to push consumers into buying a bike this spring? Maybe so, based on what happened with the government’s appliance stimulus program this month in Minnesota and Iowa.

But it may take an exciting promotion from OEMs to prime the pump.

In the last 18 months, consumers have been busy paying down credit cards and building up savings accounts. The savings rate has been the fastest in a decade. And January was a record 16th consecutive month of declining credit card debt; it dropped $1.7 billion to $864.4 billion, according to the Federal Reserve.

Now consumers may be ready to take a break from that fiscal conservatism and spend a bit of money.

Look at what happened in Minnesota and Iowa this month:  The two states ran through almost $8 million in government appliance rebate programs in less than a day.

Minnesota consumers were so excited about the retail program launched March 2, that they flooded the state’s dedicated phone lines and swamped its website. More than 25,000 persons signed up for the $5 million program in less than two hours, and by 10 am on the first day, there was a waiting list of 10,000 persons, when the program was shut down. That’s 35,000 persons jumping on the program that offered a $200 rebate on the purchase of an energy efficient major appliance such as a refrigerator.

I really can’t believe that 35,000 Minnesotans suddenly decided they wanted a new refrigerator or washer. I wonder if it’s more a case of WANTING a new appliance, rather than NEEDING one, and using the rebate as an excuse to dig into that fat savings account. And it’s not a freebee,  give-away program.

In Minnesota, a qualifying refrigerator is going to run you more than $1,000, so a consumer is still on the hook for close to $1,000 after sales tax, even with the rebate. Minnesota’s top rebate of $200 was much higher than many other states.

An energy-efficient refrigerator qualified for only a $50 rebate in Georgia, $75 in California and $100 in New York. Nearly $300 million in rebates will be available to consumers across the country through April.

The Minnesota story was much the same in Iowa where its $2.8 million program was exhausted in the first day.

Not all consumers liked the program, though, perhaps an indication of tight cash in some regions. New York had to extend its $18.7 million program and Michigan used up only about half of its $9.5 million in the first month of its program. Because of the state’s weak economy, it’ll take an estimated four months for Michigan consumers to sign up for all of the rebate money.

More Good News

Here are another couple of bright notes for retailers: Most retail sales reports improved in February over February 2009, despite heavy snowstorms for much of the month throughout the country. (Okay, February 2008 wasn’t such a hot month and it didn’t take great numbers to beat it.)

Another positive sign: the pace of home foreclosures slowed in February; it grew only 6% for the year, the smallest annual jump in four years, and was down 2% from January.

If the recent appliance rebate program was any indication, perhaps we’ll see consumers parting with some of those savings dollars and popping for a new bike or ATV soon. Now, wouldn’t that be nice?

I wonder, though, if the OEMs will have to prime the pump a bit to get consumers excited about spending money for a bike they way they were spending for appliances.  JD

Contact me with story ideas and news tips. You can reach me
at 952/893-6876 or joe@powersportsupdate.com.

Race Replica Scoots We’re Not Getting

September 27, 2009

File this under cool stuff we’re not getting in the U.S.: Three 50cc scooters wrapped in race livery that are sure to be a hit with sportbike enthusiasts looking for alternative surface street transportation.

Inspired by Valentino Rossi and the Fiat Yamaha MotoGP racing team, the Aerox Team Yamaha Race Replica (top), powered by a liquid-cooled two-stroke 50cc engine, is wrapped in the new-for-2009 paint and graphics to match the racing livery of the YZR-M1 MotoGP bike.

The Gilera Runner Marco Simoncelli Replica (middle) is powered by a 50cc liquid-cooled two-stroke engine delivering 5.4hp and features livery similar to that of the 250cc MotoGP World Champion’s factory racebike.

The Malaguti Phantom F12R Ducati Corse Superbike (bottom), available in 50cc liquid or air-cooled two-stroke versions, is the latest in a line of scoots made available via a licensing agreement between Ducati and Malaguti. Also available: the Phantom F12R Bayliss Limited Edition and the Phantom F12R Ducati Team version.

I saw all three of these units during a recent trip to the Nuerburgring in Germany. The bikes depicted in the photos were for sale at motorcycle dealerships adjacent to the world-famous racetrack.
Yamaha_ScooterGilera_ScooterDucati_Adenau-copy

Rider Impressions: The Victory Hammer S

July 15, 2009

In June I picked up a 2009 Victory Hammer S from Polaris headquarters in Medina, Minn. Now, after one month and nearly 1,000 miles, it’s time I return the bike.

As a fan of all things with two-wheels, I would’ve enjoyed keeping this head-turner in my garage alongside the SV1000S, Tomos Golden Bullet moped and forthcoming two-stroke Stella scooter. Having a muscle cruiser like the Hammer helped satisfy my different moods – whereas I enjoy long, quick-paced rides on the Suzuki, I equally enjoyed implementing the Victory for shorter, inter-city jaunts. If the SV1S, in triple black livery, is my B2 stealth bomber, the Hammer S, available only in a vibrant blue with white rally stripes, was my attention-grabbing Blue Angels C-130T Hercules “Fat Albert” – heavy, but powerful and impressively agile for its size.
VictoryHammerProfile2
The bike attracted attention and garnered questions wherever I went, whether at the filling station, neighborhood grocery store or local bike night. “Go ahead and park it right out front on the sidewalk,” the owner of my favorite restaurant, Eli’s in Minneapolis, said after grilling me on the bike’s specs and my impression of the ride.VictoryHammerOverdrive

“Nice Hammer!” a guy in a pickup truck shouted to me while we were stopped at a red light. “I just bought one! I love it!”

The Hammer S represented the fourth Victory extended ride the folks at Polaris have granted me. The first bike, the V92TC, was a bit unkempt; the first year Vegas was better, but still not tuned quite right (needed more breathing, found through the parts catalog); and the Vision I rode for a few months last summer was hugely impressive in handling and performance for its size.
VictoryHammerFrontBrake
What’d I like about the Hammer S? I had a list of highlights I quoted to everyone who asked: The 97hp, 113 ft. lbs. of torque offers a healthy dose of acceleration, the bike’s outfitted with a smooth running carbon fiber belt, the sixth gear “overdrive” transmits a fuel-saving engine speed of 2,400 rpm at 70mph, it maneuvers surprisingly well with the big 18-incher up front and 250/40R18 Dunlop rear, and braking was impressive (stainless steel lines, front dual 300mm floating rotors with 4-piston caliper and rear single 300mm floating rotor with 2-piston caliper).VictoryHammerBelt

The list of things I didn’t like is much shorter: To garner the hardtail look, engineers placed the rear shock a bit too far forward, directly under the seat. It’s preload adjustable, but nevertheless transmitted some kidney-jarring bumps when traversing roadway irregularities.
VictoryHammerGauges

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

Suzuki’s Mueller Moves to Glenn Roller

May 19, 2009

Hey, Suzuki dealers, been waiting to hear from Bob Mueller? Mueller was – until recently – sales development manager for American Suzuki Motor Corp. The key word here is “was,” as Mueller was caught up in Suzuki’s recent employee downsizing scheme.

But Mueller isn’t finished with the motorcycle industry. In fact, you can now find him working with Glenn Roller at the Glenn Roller Institute. You may recall The Educational Program, Roller’s comprehensive sales training program, offered through Suzuki, that promises to take any salesperson – if they are willing to study and learn – from a basic to a highly advanced level of sales competency.

The Educational Program takes the salesperson to a higher level of understanding of the sales process and teaches a sales system that raises sales efficiency (average amount of time and effort it takes to close sales). This system is so efficient that within seven minutes one can establish customer trust, discover what is most important to them and determine their financial parameters. These levels of understanding are incredibly successful because they are simple and can be applied with any personality style. This program includes a 400 page sales book, a 12 CD audio book, 190 que cards for practicing your lines, on-line exercises, and on-line results reporting to management.

I’m currently taking The Educational Program training course, a process taking four to six weeks to complete at 30 minutes a day. I’ll let you know when I’m done.

KTM Confirms Electric MX Model for 2011

April 23, 2009

KTM has confirmed plans to produce its previously unveiled electric off-road bike in 2010 for the 2011 model year.

As Dealernews reported in October 2008, KTM’s electric prototype weighs 200 pounds, develops approximately 35 hp, and can run for 40 minutes before recharging.
ktm_zeroemissions
KTM says the most important aspects of the project were that the machine have high power output, low weight and as long a range as possible using today’s technology. The OEM’s in-house research and development team worked on the project with Austrian firm Arsenal Research.

“The zero-emissions concept mates our known competencies with a new highly interesting motor technology,” said KTM director Harald Plöckinger. “We see emissions-free vehicles as offering the greatest chance to expand enduro sport to a wider and new audience in the mid- and long-term, and to perhaps even start a brand-new trend sport.”

Read more about KTM’s plans for 2009 at Dealernews.com.

Dealernews Visits BMW, Husqvarna

April 10, 2009

What are BMW and Husqvarna’s plans for their U.S. dealer network and product, production, pricing, financing and promotions?

I found out on Wednesday during a trip to New Jersey for a talk with Pieter de Waal, vice president, BMW Motorrad USA, and Mark Brady, president, Husqvarna Motorcycles NA, LLC.

Husqvarna Motorcycles was purchased by the BMW Group in October 2007. Husqvarna Motorcycles NA, LLC is a subsidiary of BMW (US) Holding Corp., the BMW Group’s sales headquarters for North, Central and South America, which is located in Woodcliff Lake, N.J.

Pieter de Waal, VP, BMW Motorrad USA

Pieter de Waal, VP, BMW Motorrad USA

de Waal joined BMW Motorrad USA on April 1, 2008, replacing Arturo Pineiro, who took the position of president of BMW, Central and South America. de Waal has been with BMW Group since 1994. He previously headed worldwide Sales and Marketing for BMW Motorrad in Munich. Prior to that he worked for BMW Group in Great Britain and South Africa as general manager of BMW Motorrad and technical director of BMW Motorsport.

Mark Brady, former CEO of Triumph Motorcycles America, in July 2008 became president of Husqvarna Motorcycles North America, LLC. He has spent the past nine months reestablishing the Husqvarna brand in the North American off-road market.

Stay tuned to Dealernews.com for my forthcoming report.

Ducati Working on Adventure Tourer?

March 16, 2009

It appears Ducati may be preparing to add an adventure tourer to its model line.

News outlets and blogs around the world have been reporting on the possibility, but Australian Ducati importer Warren Lee seems to have confirmed the rumors when he recently told the Courier Mail newspaper that the bike would be revealed as a 2010 model.

“Our adventure bike will be a lightweight sporty model with a swingarm similar to the 1098, a tall screen, and it will be the lightest with the best performance in its class,” Lee told the Courier Mail.

The Dutch website Motor.NL managed to obtain some spy shots of the bike apparently undergoing testing on the street. There are no knobbies mounted but, judging by the photos, the bike looks to be powered by Ducati’s liquid-cooled 1099cc V-twin – the same lump powering the OEM’s new Streetfighter.

ducati_motornlducati_motornl_2

Do You Want To Sell Your Dealership?

February 9, 2009

Groups Plan To Purchase Up To 40 Dealerships in 2009

If you’re considering the sale of your dealership, your chances of success might be improving. It looks like there is new money coming into the market with an eye to rolling up dealerships into operating groups

Long-time industry pro, Bill Shenk, is the point man for three groups, and his PowerHouse Dealer Services company has been retained to find and evaluate acquisition opportunities for these buyers.

The three buyers plan to purchase collectively up to 30 metric motorcycle

Bill Shenk

Bill Shenk

dealers and 10 Harley-Davidson dealerships in 2009 with more acquisitions planned for 2010, Shenk told me. The three groups did over $100 million in retail powersports business in 2008, he said.

Shenk wouldn’t tell me the names of the three groups or the money behind the groups. He did tell me that all three groups “are very liquid,” already have “successful OEM/powersports relations and operations,” so they can purchase and close on deals quickly.

The buyers, Shenk said, are prepared to acquire the dealership businesses and their real estate, providing a nice opportunity for owners to cash out of the business completely.

It’s easy for interested dealers to participate, Shenk says. “There are no listing frees, marketing fees, selling fees or other requirements or constraints placed on potential sellers,” he told me, “other than the standard confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements at the time of discussions.”

While the buyers will look at individual dealerships and groups, Shenk said they are limiting their purchases to businesses that have at least one of these franchises: Harley-Davidson, Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Suzuki. Dealerships can carry other franchises, but they most have one of these five major lines to be considered, Shenk emphasized. (more…)

Polaris Gives Sled Riders The Rush

January 27, 2009

Polaris Industries Inc. today launched its 2010 600 Rush snowmobile, what the OEM describes as the first snowmobile with a truly progressive-rate rear suspension. The 600 Rush’s bottomless suspension is designed to absorb bumps by transferring the load to the super-rigid PRO-RIDE chassis outfitted with a Walker Evans front track shock and a Walker Evans Comp adjustable rear track shock.

“The new Polaris 600 RUSH truly marks a turning point for the snowmobile industry,” says Scott Swenson, vice president, Snowmobile Division of Polaris Industries Inc. “The progressive-rate rear suspension has been proven in Motocross; Polaris has now become the first company to bring it to snowmobiles. This innovative suspension combined with the new super-rigid PRO-RIDE chassis provides riders with an unprecedented level of rider-active control including improvements in acceleration and cornering.”

“Polaris has really nailed it with this sled,” said Levi LaVallee, a Polaris riding professional Sno-Cross racer and X-Games Gold Medalist. “The Rush puts you in the ideal riding position to transfer my weight for launch, and to set the front end for cornering.

The limited production 2010 Polaris 600 RUSH will be offered as part of the 2010 Polaris Snow Check program beginning in March 2009. Click here for more information and to experience a virtual test ride.

polarisrush

Specifications
Engine: 600cc liquid-cooled Liberty
Dimensions
Dry Weight: 459 lbs.
Overall Length: 108 in.
Overall Width: 48 in.
Overall Height: 46 in.
Ski Center Distance: 42.5 in.
Fuel Capacity: 11 gal.
Suspension
Front: IQ adjustable w/ Walker Evans piggyback front shocks
Front Travel: 9 in.
Rear: Pro-Ride w/ Walker Evans front track shock & Walker Evans Comp. adjustable rear track shock
Rear Travel: 14 in.
Track (W x L x H in.): 15x121x1.25 RipSaw 2-ply
Features
- PERC Reverse
- Multi-Function Display Gauge
- Black Color with Rush Graphics