Yuasa Battery charged up over imports – March 13, 2006

INDIANAPOLIS — The wave of imported scooters and small ATVs have negatively affected a number of powersports manufacturers in the United States.
But that number doesn’t include the aftermarket industry’s market share leader in batteries, Yuasa Battery. The international company has seen its small battery sales increase 25 percent over the past year and a half because of the wave of imports, said Brian Harris, Yuasa’s vice president of business development.
“When this trend really started, we were in trouble because we didn’t have supply,” Harris said during the recent 2006 Dealer Expo in Indianapolis. “We didn’t anticipate this huge influx of low-cost scooters coming into the marketplace.”
Yuasa’s 4-,5-, 7-amp batteries have served as replacements to batteries that sat unused too long while being shipped to the United States.
“By the time (the exporter) manufactures it, puts it in the warehouse, puts in on a boat and brings it into the United States and then it goes sits on a dealer’s lot, you’re looking at many months transpiring,” said Harris.
That length of inactivity can either kill or significantly weaken a battery. If the battery dies before a consumer purchases a vehicle, dealers will try to recharge it.
“You can bring (the battery) back, but it will discharge super fast,” said Harris. “And that causes a huge replacement opportunity for us.”
When the surge began a year and a half ago, it also caused a big strain on Yuasa, Harris said. The company was forced to increase its imports from its Taiwan facility. Yuasa manufactures its larger batteries in Redding, Pa.
The vast majority of Yuasa’s small batteries imported from Taiwan are not activated before being sent to the United States. If they are activated, the batteries are placed on boosting stations, which bring the voltage back up, once they arrive in Redding. After the batteries are boosted, they’re shipped to dealers.
Yuasa, which has been manufacturing batteries domestically since 1979, supplies a number of North American OEMs, including Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Suzuki and Polaris. That makes up about one-third of the company’s business. The rest of Yuasa’s batteries are sold on the aftermarket through a number of distributors. psb

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