August 13, 2007 – Hot News

Motorcyclist Fatalities Up 5 Percent in 2006
For the ninth consecutive year, motorcycle fatalities have increased and are accounting for more of the total traffic accidents in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
A total of 4,810 motorcyclists were killed on the nation’s highways during 2006, an increase of 5 percent over 2005.
Although fatalities have been increasing over the past years, the percentages are not consistent year to year. In 2005, there was a fatality increase of 13 percent. 2004 brought an 8 percent increase, but the year before had a 13.5 percent jump.
The constant increase in fatalities has raised awareness of the need for new research to look into the causes of motorcycle crashes, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reported.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters spoke at this year’s annual Motorcycle Industry Council meeting at Dealer Expo suggesting ways to improve safety. She spoke of two areas in which the industry might focus: training costs and availability and the declining use of helmets by consumers.
Before the industry takes any significant action, however, more information is needed. Thanks to a major contribution from the motorcycle industry, through the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, along with pledges from the AMA and individual riders, funding for the research is now assured, and the study should begin this fall at the Oklahoma Transportation Center, which is an independent research center at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater.
“The increasing number of fatalities among motorcyclists over the past nine years have concerned us,” said Ed Moreland, AMA vice president for government relations, in a company press release. “And that’s why we’ve worked so hard to get an updated study of the causes of motorcycle crashes.”
The last such study was completed in 1980, and its conclusions have become less useful as the traffic environment has changed over the past quarter-century.
“We look forward to getting this valuable research that will help save lives on the nation’s highways,” Moreland said in the release.
H-D Reaches New Labor Deal with Kansas City Workers
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), the United Steelworkers (USW) and Harley-Davidson have reached a new, five-year collective bargaining agreement, which was to go in effect Aug. 1. It will cover unionized employees at the company’s Vehicle and Powertrain Operations in Kansas City, according to a H-D press release.
The agreement will offer improvements in wages, hours and working conditions for all hourly employees, the release stated.
The contract provides 3.5-4 percent wage increases in each of the five contract years, and employees will continue to pay no monthly premium contribution for health-care coverage.
The new agreement will run through July of 2012. Together, the IAM and USW represent about 850 Harley-Davidson employees in Kansas City, where the company’s Dyna, Sportster and VRSC motorcycles are produced.
SVIA Urges Congress to Pass ATV Safety Legislation
The Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA)?endorsed ATV safety legislation Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Ark.) introduced in July and called for Congress to quickly enact it in a July 18 press release.
The “All-Terrain Vehicle Standards and Compliance Act of 2007” would require all ATV manufacturers, whether domestic or foreign, to comply with the same basic industry safety standards and to provide adequate training, safety information and product support under U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) approved plans.
In June 2006, Tim Buche, SVIA president, testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs, Product Safety and Insurance urging Congress to enact such legislation.
More than a year after the Senate hearing, new entrants continue to flood the U.S. market with hundreds of thousands of non-compliant ATVs.
Easton-Bell Sports Names New Chief Operating Officer
Easton-Bell Sports Inc. named a new chief operating officer, Anthony “Tony” D’Onofrio, who will be responsible for global operations, including supply chain, sourcing, distribution, manufacturing and planning for the company.
“We are very excited about the wealth of experience and energy that Tony brings to this new role,” Tony Palma, CEO of Easton-Bell Sports said in a press release. “His passion for excellence and broad range of operational knowledge will help us to continue our global growth.”
D’Onofrio recently spent more than five years as chief supply chain officer for Linens ’n Things. He also spent more than 15 years with Pepsi and was vice president of operations engineering for Merck. D’Onofrio has been an executive with Michaels Stores.
“The brands under the Easton-Bell umbrella are all leaders in their space and we will continue to drive operational excellence and focus on providing our customers with superior service,”?said D’Onofrio. “We’re going to continue to build upon our extensive resources and technologies to maximize the potential of each brand.”
Saxon Motorcycle Co. Announces New President
Saxon Motorcycle Co. announced the promotion of David Schwam to company president, according to a press release. Schwam has worked with Saxon for three years where he began consulting for the investors. Later he began developing a business plan, market strategy and then accepted the role as vice president of sales and marketing.
Schwam has been in the motorcycle industry for more than five years and has consulted for several manufacturers, primarily to help improve the size and quality of their dealer networks.
Manheim Acquires Motorcycle Marketing Firm
Auction company Manheim has acquired NXGN, a U.K.-based online motorcycle marketing solutions provider for manufacturers such as Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki, Motor Trader said in a report July 31.
The acquisition, which was secured for an undisclosed sum, will see NXGN integrated into Manheim’s subsidiary Portfolio Europe.
“Portfolio is already the market leader in the provision of used car marketing programs in the U.K. and continental Europe,” said John Simpson, Portfolio Europe managing director, in the report. “What we do in the car sector, NXGN does for the retail motorcycle trade.”
Alex Quinlan, NXGN chief executive, who formed the company in 1998, said he also was looking forward to future opportunities with Manheim.
“To be part of Manheim really gives us the platform we need to expand our services and influence in other markets,” Quinlan told the newspaper. “The NXGN team has driven change in the motorcycle industry and is really excited about this move.”
Honda Offers Free Extended Service Contracts on ATVs
Honda has announced it will now offer extended coverage for six months at no charge in addition to the existing six-month service contracts on new 2007 and prior ATV models sold before Dec. 31, 2008, according to a Honda press release.
This announcement follows the recent news that all 2008 Honda ATVs will feature a 12-month warranty.
“Our ATV customers can have the benefit of increased protection on more models right now,” said Dan Wright, American Honda’s national sales manager.
Honda also said that customers who have recently bought an ATV might qualify for additional protection.
Cycle Country Reports Low Earnings
Cycle Country, a supplier of ATV accessories, announced disappointing earnings for its third quarter. They also revealed a reorganization of their sales and marketing departments, according to a press release.
The company hopes increasing its contract manufacturing and continued product development, along with a review of unproductive lines, will result in double digit sales and profitability growth.
The company’s preseason snow blade orders are currently above normal levels. psb

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