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March 12, 2007 – An intriguing industry question

SAN DIEGO — Dealers invited to the public launch of BRP’s new on-road product, the three-wheel Spyder, overwhelmingly approved of its unique look and stability factors while also wondering about its eventual standing in the powersports marketplace.
Will the new vehicle, which sports a Y geometry with its two front wheels and one rear wheel, be merely a new, but small niche in the industry or something much grander?
“I don’t know how big of an element it’s going to be right now,” said Tony Montenegro, sales manager of MotorSports of Ft. Lauderdale in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. “Maybe if another player comes into the marketplace it could help elevate the awareness of it. But for now I think it’s going to be a niche market.”
Terry Armstrong, the owner of Pioneer Motorsport in Chaffee, N.Y., felt more confident about the three-wheeler’s long-term future.
“It’s not ultrafast. It’s not obviously a sport bike,” he said, before noting, “but I think there’s going to be a lot of people that it will appeal to.”
BRP told the 150 dealers on hand at the San Diego event that its conservative target for worldwide Spyder sales in the product’s first five years is 20,000. The company’s self-described optimistic sales target is nearly double that.
BRP’s limited release of the Spyder this fall means there won’t be a large initial sales surge, even if there’s a huge buzz associated with it, which many dealers predict.
“When you see it go by or you’re standing next to it, it’s gorgeous. So it has that allure, that attraction,” said David Hamer, owner of Palm Beach Cycles in Palm Beach, Fla., noting he witnessed people at the San Diego hotel where the event was held closely checking out Spyder.
“When they see it go by, it turns their head,” Hamer said. “And that’s what we’re looking for.”
BRP’s initial production this fall of the Spyder will be less than 1,000 vehicles. Those vehicles will go to 150 dealers in four provinces in Canada and 12 states in the United States. That first U.S. dealer group represents about 45 percent of the U.S. motorcycle market, says BRP CEO Jose Boisjoli.
A second rollout phase will start in 2008 and include nine more states in the U.S. Production would then ramp up based on demand of the product, Boisjoli said.
The third year of the rollout plan, which could change depending on market factors, will include the rest of the U.S. The remaining Canadian provinces will be added in the second and third parts of the rollout. BRP will extend the Spyder to Europe in 2008, initially hitting the markets in France and Spain with the rest of the western European markets being added in the following years.
“Starting a new industry will take courage, some investment and some belief,” Boisjoli said, noting he foresees eventually half of the BRP dealers in the U.S. selling the Spyder.
Who will be buying Spyder? The company has outlined the 35-45-year-old male consumer who already owns powersports vehicles as the targeted consumer. But many dealers said the vehicle’s safety features — it has a stability control system that eases its steering and handling — could also be popular with both women and older consumers.
“A lot of the older guys who are leaning toward trikes are going to look at this first now because this has as much stability as any trike does,” said Dennis Perez, dealer principal of Vacaville Motor Sports & Marine in Vacaville, Calif.
“I see a big niche for it,” said John Hamer, owner of Seminole Harley Davidson Buell in Sanford, Fla. “I think you have a lot of people who want to have a bike and want to get into the sport but just can’t because they don’t feel comfortable.”
Hamer’s brother, David of Palm Beach Cycles, also sees stability as being a key to the vehicle’s buyer demographic.
“Stability makes it so a young lady or an older gentleman could get on it and feel secure,” he said. “That’s really, really important.”
Steve McCarley, owner of Redding Yamaha Sea-Doo in Redding, Calif., agreed, noting the stability factor will be key to the older rider.
“I don’t feel comfortable personally riding a sport bike into a corner aggressively, where (the Spyder) I think I could do that,” he said. “So it might be more of a fun factor for guys who really aren’t avid sport bikers.”
That buyer demographic also figures to include wealthier clientele, something Mike Monez, owner of Marina Boat Sales in Lodi, Calif., sees in his dealership.
“I think it will be a pretty strong item,” said Monez, noting the U.S. price point of $14,999 for the standard transmission is much easier to swallow than the price tag of a new sports car.
Chris Watts, owner of America’s Motorsports, which includes three stores in Tennessee, was more typical of other dealers, believing there is a market presence for the Spyder but unsure of exactly how big of a presence that is.
“The first 2,500 will the easiest ones they ever sell,” he said. “The second 2,500 … that remains to be seen.” psb

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