Kawasaki unveils new models for 2012 at dealer meeting (video)

Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. celebrated its second year in a row as the motorcycle market share leader among Japanese OEMs by unveiling a host of new vehicles that left more than 1,000 U.S. dealers buzzing.

The new Ninja ZX-14R and the Teryx4 750 4x4 four-passenger side-by-side gave dealers more to talk about the day after they enjoyed a festive dinner at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando alongside tight-lipped alligators, mammoth snakes and walking human trees. See a video of how the Ninja ZX-14R made its debut here.

The event, held Sunday through Tuesday, also touted the OEM’s desire to see its customer satisfaction rates slither up the charts as well. Bill Jenkins, Kawasaki VP of sales, provided Kawasaki dealers in attendance with a laundry list of ways that the company plans to assist them in 2012. Among the most discussed items afterward was flooring financing for used vehicles (any OEM) provided the customer purchases a new Kawasaki. In addition, Kawasaki will implement a bi-monthly ordering system for ATVs and side-by-sides beginning in December. Dealers will be offered the same bi-monthly ordering system for all products by October 2012. Kawasaki also will offer an “industry-breaking” business alliance in which dealers can obtain such benefits as healthcare, workman’s compensation, garage liability and payroll, all at a small-business cost structure.

All in all, Jenkins said, the dealer meeting created “tremendous energy.” Dealers concurred.

“I think the changes they made to some of the models were excellent,” said dealer Aaron Johnson of Decorah Kawasaki Sports Center in Decorah, Iowa. “There were a few of the models that they needed to make changes with, and I think the Teryx was perfect. It’s a cool design and looks well-built. That’s going to keep up with the rest of the businesses out there. I think the [new Ninja] 650 was a nice change. The used flooring is a huge thing. I’m very excited to see what it’s going to do. That’s the first I’ve ever heard of that. The Dealer Business Center is going to be interesting to see. If it can help our employees and help our customers, it’s going to be a big thing.”

Dealer inventories have decreased by 15 percent from a year ago, and 40 percent from two years ago.

“I was a dealer before I came to Kawasaki, and if you don’t listen to what the dealer is telling you, you’re never going to be successful,” Jenkins said. “We went really in depth in trying to determine what we could do to improve our business and to continue a couple of successful years.”

In addition to the Ninja 650 ($7,499) and Ninja ZX-14R ($14,699), Kawasaki introduced its Brute Force 300, replacing the Bayou 250 in the sport utility ATV segment. The four-passenger Teryx4 750 4x4 ranges in price from 13,399 to $15,199. The new high-end Jet Ski Ultra LX ($10,999) is an aspirated version of the Kawasaki’s 300-horsepower Ultra 300LX. Those were only a trace of a slew of 2012 products and apparel that were launched.

Read more about the Kawasaki Dealer Business Meeting in an upcoming edition of Powersports Business.

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