In a move designed to improve variety in its scooter lineup, Cobra Powersports has rebranded its scooter line from TGB to PEIRSPEED. The change comes as PEIRSPEED also secures the distribution rights to the SACHS MadAss bikes in America.
“We’ve had great success selling the TGB scooters and look forward to a smooth transition to the new name,” said Bill Peirce, president of Cobra Powersports. “By marketing our TGB scooters and SACHS Bikes under the PEIRSPEED name, we can be more efficient and have 100 percent control over the brand. It will allow us to do more consumer advertising, which will significantly help our dealers.”
A stressed relationship
Peirce says the move to rebrand is something the company has been working on for the past year, although there was resistance from TGB.
“I told TGB that our distribution agreement was coming up for renewel, and that if they ever wanted to go in to the U.S. and kick us out, we’d be left with nothing, and they understood that,” he said. “So either I was going to get an agreement that would give me the ability to brand it, or I wasn’t going to distribute it anymore. So I didn’t place any scooters at all until I got them to agree to do it.”
Peirce says the rebranding gives both companies a better chance to sell more scooters, as it allows Cobra to expand its product range by getting new products, yet still sell as many TGB products — if not more — than they have in the past. As expected, however, Peirce says the current relationship with TGB is stressed, but he believes that will soon pass.
“They weren’t very happy with us doing this, but I think they’ll come around to understand that we’re still ordering the same amount of product and still selling it,” he said. “We’re not hurting them, we’re helping them. I think it was more of an ego thing with them.”
Peirce says the biggest problems he’s faced with Asian scooter manufacturers, not just TGB, is that they don’t have a good perception of what the U.S. market is like for two-wheeled products.
“They just continue to say buy, buy, buy, and they don’t understand that the scooter market isn’t as big as Europe or Taiwan,” he said. “So when they continue to push a distributor to buy, you get nervous because you start thinking, ‘If I don’t buy, will they do it themselves or find someone else to distribute them?’ We’ll continue to build the relationship with TGB so that there’s a mutual trust there, but at the same time it’s business, and they understood why we were doing it, they just didn’t like it.”
Peirce says the TGB logo will remain on the engine/CVT case so TGB customers will know they are still getting a TGB scooter from PEIRSPEED dealers. In addition, the company hasn’t changed the model names, so customers who want a certain model will still be able to find it at their local dealer.
For 2009, the company is still offering its popular Key West, the Laser R5/R9, Delivery scooters and R50X. In addition, plans are in place to expand the scooter line from seven models to 12. Later this month, the company will release three new four-stroke 50cc scooters, two new 150cc scooters, an all-new 400cc scooter and three new motorcycle/scooters from the German manufacturer, SACHS.
“By the time it’s all said and done this summer, the hope is to have those new models available to consumers,” Peirce said.
For dealers concerned about customers able to know the scooters are still made by TGB, he noted TGB’s logo will not only be on the engine case but also on the DOT and EPA labels.
“These are still manufactured by them, so it will be easily visible for both dealers and customers to recognize,” he said.
Peirce says the demand for scooters has been so high that his company is completely out of stock of all its scooters. The high demand was unexpected by Peirce, who ordered conservatively for 2008. Still, he reports sales are up 20 percent compared to 2007.
“We could be 50 percent ahead if we had the product in stock, but who knew that gas prices were going to be $4 per gallon?” he said. “So we just didn’t stock up on it. Last year we had a good year and 2006 was really good. We looked at this year and decided to be more conservative, and of course gas prices went through the roof.”
Peirce notes he’s amazed by the growing number of scooters he sees on the roads, and hopes the trend continues.
“I live down in Georgia in the country and I used to never see scooters, and I was on my way to dinner yesterday and saw two scooters on the road,” he said. “I think it’s the times we live in with tighter consumer budgets and the need to save money, especially when it comes to transportation. Consumers seem to have weathered the housing crisis for the most part, and then gas prices skyrocket. I think we’re seeing a new type of customer out there, which is exciting for us.”