Nov. 2, 2009 – KYMCO USA adds to its aftermarket partnerships

ASHVILLE, N.C. — KYMCO USA is adding to its core business, scooters, with its 2010 model lineup but also making adjustments to smaller parts of its business.
The subsidiary of the large Taiwanese manufacturer continues to add to its aftermarket partnerships while making adjustments in its niche motorcycle offering.
KYMCO USA President Eric Bondy said it has added UTV aftermarket manufacturer Seizmik to the list of aftermarket companies KYMCO is working with. That list includes SHAD, which offers top cases for the brand’s scooters, and ATV/UTV manufacturers Kolpin and Warn.
“Those brands have been open to help us build our brand and those are the kind of partnerships that we continue to look forward to,” Bondy said.
KYMCO USA has seen the success other OEMs have had in building their accessory business and the impact that eventually can have on a company’s bottom line. Bondy, in fact, noted KYMCO USA last year brought on a full-time accessories manager to handle that growing part of the business.
Besides providing additional revenue, the accessory partnerships have helped KYMCO’s retail new unit sales. Bondy noted the company did very well this past selling season with an accessory package. Consumers of KYMCO scooters were able to select either a windshield or a SHAD top case as an incentive to buy the unit.
“We’ve had phenomenal success with that,” Bondy said of the program.
Bondy and company introduced their 2010 lineup recently in Ashville, N.C., home of the Biltmore, a picturesque, 19th century estate that looks like something out of an English countryside. Some of the estate’s 8,000 acres proved to be a testing ground for KYMCO USA’s newest offerings, including its 2010 scooter addition, the retro-styled 50 Like. KYMCO USA also revealed additional high-displacement offerings to its 17-model on-road collection. In the second quarter of 2010, the company will provide the Downtown 300i and the Like 200i. Those two scooters will be 2011 models.
KYMCO USA also has made adjustments to its small-displacement motorcycle offering, a small part of its overall business. The OEM decided not to bring back its 250cc V-twin Venox and instead offer the 150cc Quannon, a bike that hit dealer showrooms in April.
Would KYMCO consider venturing into an area of the market that Kawasaki has had recent success with — the 250cc sport bike market? Bondy didn’t think so.
“Kawasaki has developed this niche,” he said. “They’ve obviously done pretty well with it based on the sales numbers they have. If we started today and said, ‘Gosh, we want to develop a 250cc sport bike, it might be 2½-3 years to bring a really, refined bike to market.”
KYMCO might be able to speed that process up simply because of the resources the Taiwanese company has, but “given KYMCO’s commitment to quality, they generally want to take their time and make sure they’re developing the right product.
“I wouldn’t say we wouldn’t look at it,” Bondy said of the 250cc sport bike market, “but right now I don’t know of any plans for us going after it.”
Instead, Bondy said KYMCO USA needs to improve in the segments it’s already in, including in the off-road areas, and continue to improve its brand recognition, perhaps the company’s biggest hurdle going forward. KYMCO has made several marketing moves in the past year to do just that, including becoming a sponsor in the IndyCar series. Bondy said the recession’s impact has forced the company to make some 2009 marketing cutbacks, but for the most part the company will remain active with its marketing message late this year and into 2010.
“We’re not going to walk away from the fundamentals that got us to where we are at this point,” he said. “We’re going to
continue to do those things.”
— Neil Pascale

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