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March 12, 2007 – Independent dealers see reason for hope

INDIANAPOLIS — An informal survey of independent powersports dealers walking the Chinese Pavilion at the recently held Dealer Expo found that low price point vehicles coming from the Far East and the parts availability for those new units are improving.
That was the general consensus of the close to 20 independent dealers that Powersports Business spoke with. Here is a closer look at some of their comments:
Scott Lebeaux
RS Motorsports
Asanti, Minn.

All I do is Chinese. Dollar-wise, we sell about $500,000 annually. As far as parts go, it depends. Some companies we have problems with, and some companies we don’t. That’s why I’m out here looking for good companies. SSR has been real good.
The feedback from my customers has been good. The key is I sell a lot of the small stuff to kids. When they’re paying for it, they know they’re going to outgrow it. There are problems here and there, but I don’t know if they’re a whole lot different than any dealer faces. Maybe the plastic isn’t quite as good, but the engines have been really good and I’ve been able to get parts from the companies I deal with. That’s the key.
Troy Sinke
Southern Power Sports
Norcross, Ga.

Our inventory consists of only Chinese manufacturers. The consistency of quality tends to vary depending on the manufacturer. There’s definitely a lot of junk, but we find that every year there’s product out there that has really impressed us. We won’t buy a product unless we can get parts. We learned that lesson early in dealing with these manufacturers. As for warranties, we have our own in-house warranty service that customers can purchase, so that’s not an issue either. There’s always going to be issues with the Asian products, but it’s gotten so much better in the past few years and we’re seeing a trend toward more consumers looking at Chinese vehicles first.
Donald Graf
Cycle Powers West
Ft. Wayne, Ind.

It’s still a huge problem getting parts, and that’s something that continues to be a large struggle. The quality of the products is definitely improving, but as the quality improves I’ve seen the price points start to move up, (and) the gap between the Japanese manufacturers and the Chinese is starting to close. I find the manufacturers that allow me to communicate more closely with them and share my opinion on their product, the quality has started to improve. Generally there are still a lot of inconsistencies in the market. But you can’t ignore the sales numbers, and to me it’s a sign that they’re only going to be gaining a bigger share of the market.
Gary Sargent Sr.
Sargents Motor Sports
Portland, Ore.

Trying to deal directly with China — that’s a buyer beware deal. So one of the questions we’re asking vendors here (at the Chinese Pavilion) is do you have a warehouse in the United States? Do you stock parts (in the U.S.)? If the answer is no to either one of those questions, we don’t pursue it.
United Motors, Q-Link, Adly Moto, those are companies that are in it for the duration. They’re branding their name. Slowly but surely, they’re cutting a piece of the pie.
Neil Perkoff
RCBS Powersports
Bellevue, Neb.

I think the price points of the Chinese bikes are attractive to buyers. There are some we’re going to be careful with, but once we’ve sold several from the same manufacturer for a certain amount of time with limited problems then we feel comfortable ordering more product. This is my first time at the show so I have an open mind to it right now.
We carry the Xtreme line, and they’ve done excellent, especially the off-road pit bikes. They’ve come a long ways in terms of quality. And it’s still a major concern to partner with a company that you know might not be around one to two years down the line, so as a dealer I’m very aware of that when I walk around a show like this.
Robert Pollard
Alaska Power Sports
Anchorage, Alaska

I absolutely carry only Chinese products, and I think this is the future for inexpensive entry. The experience has been great, and I haven’t had any problems obtaining parts. As this market matures, you’re seeing that these parts are becoming generally universal. The lack of warranties has really been a non-issue because people understand that they’re buying an inexpensive machine.
Jeff White
Patriot Motorsports
Princeton, W.Va.

There is definitely a growing demand (for low price-point units) among our customers. They’re getting there with the quality, so as long as they can keep it up I think they can seriously make some money. The market is definitely there, as long as the price points stay low. Because once you reach the $5,000-$6,000 range, people will start to lean more toward American and Japanese OEM products. psb

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