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FOCUS – Aprilia USA Continues on Course

Servicing approximately 110 motorcycle and scooter dealers and roughly 15 scooter-only dealers, Aprilia USA is a company with a proven product but a future still in question.
Earlier in the year, Aprilia SpA, unable to escape from mounting debt and loans that had become due, began accepting proposals to purchase the company. In August, officials of Aprilia and Piaggio & Co. SpA announced they had signed a preliminary agreement for the merger of the two groups. Since then, all involved continue to wait for final approval by Italian anti-trust authorities.
“It’s business as usual for us in terms of product offerings and supporting and building our dealer network,” Aprilia USA’s Michael Orr told Powersports Business. “I’m not going to say things haven’t stalled a bit, but everyone is just waiting on the deal to be finalized.
“Everything is moving on as anticipated; the companies are working on business plans together and we’re involved with that now, and we couldn’t be more bullish on the outcome and the resources that the merger is going to bring with it.”
For 2005, Aprilia plans to offer the Mojito 50 Custom; SR50 DITECH; Scarabeo 50, 150 and 250; and Scarabeo 500.
“That’s down from the ’04 offering, and we may trim some more models, but those are the units we feel offer the most differentiation in the marketplace and the best offerings for our dealers,” Orr said.
The main trend Orr says he is witnessing is growth in big-bores. “And that really is more of an automatic motorcycle than it is a scooter — in fact, it’s almost a new segment in motorcycling.”
The Atlantic 500 will not be back in 2005, but Orr said it had nothing to do with sales. “The reason is because in the big-bore scooter market, the Scarabeo 500 is the only one of its kind, whereas the Atlantic would be somewhat similar to product out in the marketplace already,” he said.
Orr said he believes the U.S. scooter market is growing dramatically — “outpacing industry growth, as a segment” — and says sales have blossomed in northern climates as well as Sunbelt states.
“There tend to be pockets of buyers in the U.S., obviously many where you can ride all season, but we’re also experiencing sales growth in places like San Francisco, Washington DC and Chicago,” Orr said. “Like with motorcycles, people are discovering scooters as a new way of recreating and as alternative transportation. Plus, since we tend to be in European motorcycle dealerships, our scooters seem to fit in well with the visiting consumers.”

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