Yamaha Motor Corp. USA added another successful year in 2012, and brings momentum in various powersports segments into 2013. Industry-wide, the motorcycle business saw nearly 3 percent growth in 2012, with ATV up about 1 percent and side-by-sides continuing to surge. Henio Arcangeli, Jr., president of the Motorsports Group Company, shared some time with Powersports Business Editor in Chief Dave McMahon to provide readers with insight into the year that was, and why 2013 is shaping up to be another strong year for both the company and the industry.
1. How did 2012 shape up for Yamaha’s motorcycle, ATV/side-by-side and snowmobile business?
“Overall we were very happy with our business results in 2012. First off, looking at product line results, our Star Motorcycle line was the industry leader in metric cruiser sales. Our 1000 and 600cc super sport bikes were also the industry leader in their respective category. In ATV, we were again number one in sport ATV sales, keeping us the leader in that segment. Our side-by-side business has been through a lot, but over this last year our retail sales grew by over 60 percent, so we are very happy with that. And outdoor power equipment grew by over 40 percent year-over-year. The only area that we were disappointed in was our snowmobile business. The warm winter to start the 2012 year really slowed the overall industry down. But what we’re really excited about is that consumers are still out enjoying motorsports products. It’s a popular lifestyle that appeals to many people and we’re thrilled to see so many people coming out and enjoying our products.”
2. Looking at the powersports industry in general, what were some positive traits that you saw in 2012?
“First, the industry is growing again, which is a very positive sign. Secondly, as I mentioned earlier, consumers are out enjoying motorsports products and the lifestyle, and that’s good to see. The third one that I’m really excited about is that the dealer network is really stabilized from the recession. We’re seeing far fewer dealership closures, and we’re seeing many people trying to buy existing dealerships and looking to open new points as well. We believe that’s a strong sign that industry is definitely recovering.”
3. What kind of trends are you seeing in consumer financing?
“The overall improvement in sources for consumer financing is noteworthy, whether it’s factory financing like Yamaha offers, or with credit unions or local banks. There’s so much more competition for consumer financing, it’s really allowing the consumer more options for financing new purchases. And, as the used product prices have started to rise due to tighter supply, the gap between new and used is closing, so we see more and more people now considering new purchases, which is very good for our business.”
4. How has Yamaha’s product line allowed dealers to build profitability into their business in 2012 and into 2013?
“We truly believe we have the broadest lineup of high quality products in the industry for our dealer partners and our consumers. The key is ‘All seasons, all terrain and all ages.’ We’ve also introduced new value products like the Grizzly 300, which has a very competitive price point and has allowed us to capture more business, especially in a tight economy. Outside of the hard products, our P&A and extended service plans have been very strong for our dealers.
“We’re very much focused on working with our dealer partners and providing them with tools that help them grow their sales and drive profitability. In addition to the very successful Pro Yamaha program and Yamaha Motor University, last year we launched the RIDE program — Rider, Instruction, Demonstration, and Events. We’ve really reached out to our dealer partners and provided them with the tools to get out in the community and try to help consumers learn how to ride and come back and be part of the motorsports community. We think that’s going to be an important long-term strategy for our dealers’ success.”
5. What do you see as some of the strengths of the Yamaha dealer base in 2013?
We really believe that our dealers are the most enthusiastic dealers in the industry. They have a long history of being very connected to their community and local enthusiasts. Yamaha dealerships are truly a consumer destination offering a diverse product line for all ages, and a very high level of customer satisfaction. In 2012, our dealers had the highest CSI score of any time, an all-time record for Yamaha. As we all know, when somebody has a good experience at a dealership, they’re more apt to come back for service and the next product sale. Happy customers continue to want to come back, so it’s a win-win all the way around.
6. How important has the shift of ATV assembly to the Newnan plant been over the past year, and perhaps looking ahead to 2013?
It’s been a very important shift for us. The majority of our ATV production, and 100 percent of our side-by-side production is coming from there now. It provides us with the flexibility that allows us to react quickly to marketplace trends and support our dealer partners. With the shift, we’re putting more people resources and technology in the factory. That allows us to develop new product faster for our North American market. With the increased focus on production in Newnan, that’s really helped us add more jobs in the U.S., not only in our factories but at the hundreds of suppliers we have across the U.S. It’s a cliché, but it’s truly a win-win-win for the company, for our dealer partners and for the consumer. It’s very, very positive.
7. It sounds like Yamaha’s ready for more growth in 2013.
We’re very excited about 2013. We see continued growth. Not only in the industry, but in our product lines as well, so we think 2013 is going to be a very good year.