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Apr. 21, 2008 – Hot News

April 21, 2008
Filed under News

OEMs Offer MPG Data on Bikes, Scooters

Metric manufacturers are looking into or have recently posted motorcycle and scooter miles per gallon information in wake of significant gas price increases and consumer demand for such information.
Yamaha Motor Corp. recently did a company first by posting all of its scooters’ MPG information on its Web site.
American Suzuki Motor Corp. is in the midst of pushing an ad campaign that will present the mpg for its motorcycles, company officials told Powersports Business.
A recent spike in gas prices has caused the national average to rise to $3.33 per gallon for unleaded, a 53-cent increase from a year ago, according to the Energy Information Administration.
Yamaha has already posted the mpg for all its scooters on its Web site right by each picture of the scooters. Kevin Foley, media relations manager for street motorcycles, says prior to this, Yamaha had only published some of the mpg in its print brochures and sales materials.
“In light of the current fuel price situation, we felt now was a good time to include all of our scooter models,” Foley said. “In addition, this information is being added to dealer P.O.P. and sales materials.”
Suzuki is taking the mpg information and will be placing it in an ad campaign. Glenn Hansen, communications manager of the motorcycle/ATV division for Suzuki, says the company did something similar two years ago, but the details of the coming campaign are yet to be finalized.
“The advertising group is working on all the details of that ad campaign and researching the media options,” he said, “but no final decisions have been made on the full impact on the reach of the campaign.”
The idea to do the campaign was sparked by consumers constantly asking for mpg information on all of Suzuki’s products.
“It’s just one more question about features and benefits we get from consumers along with hp, wheel base and the size of the fuel tank; you name it,” said Hansen. “More and more people are asking about fuel mileage. I think people are trying to save money where they can. If they can ride their motorcycle more, then having a good, high mileage bike would be a great benefit.”
Kawasaki Motors Corp. U.S.A. is looking into posting the mpg for all or some of its motorcycles, but the company remains undecided. Jan Plessner, public relations manager, says the company is currently investigating the topic.
“We are doing research right now to better understand how the other OEMs are measuring and recording their mpg figures,” she said. “We think it’s important to have a consistent and accurate measuring method, so customers can feel confident they are comparing apples to apples when shopping for a motorcycle.”

Harley-Davidson Reaches Agreement with Unions

All three unions representing Harley-Davidson employees in Wisconsin recently voted to ratify new collective bargaining agreements with the company, Harley said in a statement.
The new four-year agreements, which cover approximately 2,210 employees, became effective retroactive to April 1.
Harley-Davidson has individual labor agreements with United Steelworkers (USW) Local 2-209, representing about 1,700 employees, and International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Lodge 78, representing about 150 employees, in the Milwaukee area; and with USW Local 460 in Tomahawk, Wis., which represents about 360 employees.
“The new contracts balance Harley-Davidson’s need to responsibly manage our business for the long term in a competitive global market with our desire to continue to provide a strong wage and benefits package for employees,” said Harold Scott, vice president, human resources.
In addition to improvements in wages, the new contracts provide for the establishment of Health Reimbursement Arrangements for bargaining unit employees, under which they can use these dollars to help pay for out-of-pocket health care costs. Other health care plan provisions are designed to moderate the rise in plan costs.

Cycle Country Accessories Names New President

Cycle Country Accessories Corp. announced a new president, Jeff Tetzlaff, after its former CEO left to pursue other business interests.
Tetzlaff will be elected to the board of directors at the company’s next board meeting, according a company press release.
Tetzlaff was previously a consultant to Cycle Country and an eight-year employee of Commerce Street Venture group. He replaces the former CEO and president, Randy Kempf.

Yamaha Motor Corp. Wins Patent Infringement Case

Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A. successfully defended a patent infringement claim filed by Boss Industries regarding a snowmobile seat, Yamaha said in a statement March 19.
United States District Court Judge Dale Kimball issued a judgment of non-infringement on March 13, in favor of Yamaha. The court found that Yamaha’s snowmobile seats did not infringe any of the patents at issue held by Boss Industries, an aftermarket snowmobile seat manufacturer based in Pleasant Grove, Utah.
“From day one, Yamaha has maintained that its snowmobile seats did not infringe any of Boss’ patents,” said Madeleine Uran, Yamaha’s associate general counsel. “Our company stands behind the integrity of its own patented snowmobile seats, and the court’s ruling validates our position.”
The original patent infringement lawsuit was filed May 12, 2005, over snowmobile seats and snowmobile replacement seats on Yamaha’s Viper snowmobile.

Yamaha Motor Corp. Hands Out $190,000 in Access Grants

Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A. recently handed out the first GRANT (Guaranteeing Responsible Access to our Nation’s Trails) awards, totaling more than $190,000 from its OHV Access Initiative, the company said in a press release April 9.
GRANTs were given to 19 organizations across the country to fund projects, including OHV trail and park development, trail mapping, safety and land stewardship programs and lobbying efforts to increase OHV access on public land. More than 35 applications were submitted by the Feb. 29 deadline.
Yamaha’s OHV Access Initiative is designed to support safe, responsible riding and sustainable, open riding areas. The program was launched in January as a proactive, grassroots program enabling Yamaha dealers and customers to fund deserving projects in support of responsible, open access. The Yamaha OHV Access Initiative review committee awarded GRANTs ranging from $1,000-$35,000.
As a requirement of funding, GRANT recipients will provide project status and completion reports to help ensure each project is successful. The Yamaha OHV Access Initiative will see projects to fruition and communicate their successes through the program’s Web site.
In other company news, Yamaha Motor Co. started construction on its motorcycle factory in the Philippines where manufacturing operations are scheduled to begin in January 2009, according to a company press release.
Investing more than $91 million for construction, Yamaha is expecting the facility to produce 150,000 motorcycle units annually and have an initial workforce of about 270.

Revenue Increase, Profits Decrease in GE’s First Quarter

GE was able to increase revenue during the first quarter of 2008, which ended March 31, the company said in a statement April 11. However, steep profit declines in the financial segment led to a loss in profits for the quarter compared to 2007.
The company’s Commercial Finance division pulled in $8.57 billion for the first three months of the year, up 7 percent compared to 2007. GE Money posted a 7 percent increase as well, with $6.4 billion in revenues for the quarter.
Profits for Commercial Finance were down 20 percent for the first quarter, to $1.2 billion. GE Money fared the same, down 19 percent to $995 million in profit.
“Commercial Finance and GE Money remain in good shape and still earned $2.2 billion in a tough market,” said Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO. “Our balance sheet is strong, portfolio quality is stable, and we are originating business at high margins.”
Overall, GE’s revenue was up 10 percent to $41.5 billion. Profits fell 4 percent to $6.3 billion.

CORRECTION

The comments attributed to Mike Martin of Martin Racing Performance in the March 31 issue’s article “A market readies for take off” should have been attributed to company president Joel Martin. We apologize for the error. psb

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