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Scoots zoom into the U.S.

May 6, 2004
Filed under Features

Inexpensive to operate and easy to ride, scooters are arguably the most-used form of motorized personal transportation in the world, aside from the automobile.
While the Asian scooter market is saturated with millions of units every year, and the usually strong European market has tumbled a bit, ask anyone involved with the import and distribution of motorized scooters in the U.S. and they will say North America is open territory — or, as a number of scooteristi said: “pure potential.”
A record number of companies are now moving scooters in the U.S. While the Motorcycle industry Council (MIC) estimates U.S. scooter market growth at about 18% during the first nine months of 2003 — that, on the shoulders of 38% growth during full-year 2002 — companies Powersports Business recently talked with say the percentages, and actual numbers, are much higher than what is being reported.
The MIC reports only sales from member OEMs.
Scooters ranging in size from 50cc to 600cc are now being sold stateside, with the largest markets located in major urban environments and within the Sunbelt states.
However, while there are units designed to serve a number of different tastes — retro, sport, touring — the scooter buyer can not be so easily categorized.
“Nobody can really put a finger on who is buying scooters,” Doug Farrelly of Derbi West, LLC, said, voicing an opinion shared by a number of others inteviewed by Powersports Business. “It’s the high school kid as much as it’s the 70-year-old couple putting it on the back of their motorhome.”
To capture this diverse potential market, scooter companies are increasingly aiming their advertisements out of the powersports industry, striking marketing deals with restaurant chains, mass retailers and entertainment outlets.
As American Honda’s Jon Seidel said: “People are buying scooters because they are seeing them in all forms of advertising, TV and movies, and because they’re just plain cool.
“The ongoing introduction of new models, advertising, and product placement, along with dealer focus, should continue to expand scooter sales to an ever-broadening customer based.”

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