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Suzuki expected to take aim at smaller scooter market – November 13, 2006

November 13, 2006
Filed under Features

Suzuki, the industry’s sport bike market share leader, appears ready to try to climb to the top of another competitive segment — low-displacement scooters.
Mel Harris, Suzuki’s vice president of motorcycle and marine operations, told Powersports Business at the company’s recent new product show in Las Vegas that Suzuki would be introducing a 125cc scooter.
“That is going to be coming to the United States,” Harris said. “So we’ll have full range of Burgmans when we’re done.”
What exactly that full range will be isn’t known yet. Besides the 400 and 550, which are already available in the United States, Suzuki also sells a 125 and 200 throughout Europe and in parts of Asia.
Suzuki dealers saw a 125 scooter at the 2005 new product show and were told to expect the product for the fall of 2006. That didn’t happen, Harris said, because Suzuki factories were overloaded with additional requests for existing product.
Suzuki has certainly had success with its Burgman 400, which through September was the No. 1 selling scooter in the United States above 150cc, according to Suzuki officials.
Can the company find similar success with its smaller scooter?
“This is a very competitive segment,” said Glenn Hansen, Suzuki’s communications manager. “There are a lot of players in this class, many of whom do not report to the Motorcycle Industry Council currently.
“We know that price is a huge factor in this range, for both consumers at retail and for dealers paying wholesale and looking at their profit margins.”
Not only would price be significantly different with the smaller-displacement scooter, but the size of the product and its end user also figure to be different.
Hansen said the smaller-displacement sccoter “might not draw the touring crowd like the current Burgmans do” partly because of the size differences in the products. Here’s a look at some of those differences:

  • the wheelbase of the 125 is 57.7 inches, approximately 5 inches shorter than the 400;
  • the dry weight of the 125 is 326 pounds, more than 110 pounds lighter than the 400;
  • the fuel capacity of the 125 is 2.9 gallons where the 400 is 3.6 gallons.
    Hansen believes the end users for these smaller-displacement scooters figure to mirror buyers of less-expensive motorcycle models: younger consumers.
    So how does Suzuki draw these younger buyers in such a crowded market?
    Hansen said the company will rely on what has worked with its other industry segments, including strong word of mouth support, positive press reports and dealer support. “We focus on our dealers’ profitability, and we hope they continue to push our products and make profits,” he said.
    Another key for Suzuki for the smaller scooters will be “marketing and advertising of new products to the right consumers,” Hansen said.
    Besides potentially offering the lower displacement scooter in 2007, Suzuki also unveiled an updated 400 as part of its early release 2007 products.
    The new Burgman 400 ($5,899) features a new fuel-injected, single cylinder engine that is water-cooled and meets European emissions standards.
    The 400 has a new chassis, new dual front disc brakes and a larger, 14-inch front wheel, giving the scooter an increased bank angle of 43 degrees and better overall handling.
    The scooter also features a new instrument panel, which includes the usual instruments plus twin tripmeters and average fuel consumption gauge. PSB

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