March 17, 2012
PART 2: SCOOTER SALES RISE NICELY IN 2011
The 2011 results are in from the USA based Motorcycle Industry Council and scooter sales finished 2011 up 11.8%. This rise in sales is a welcome bit of good news after pretty grim recession results from 2009 and 2010.
USA Scooter sales had been marching higher most every year from 2002 to 2008, with actual sales increasing from about 70,000 scooters up to around 200,000 in the peak year of 2008.
That all changed with the 2009 recession and subsequent lower fuel prices that combined to trigger a pancaking of the scooter market. 2009 sales were a staggering 59% lower than 2008, which led to a huge clog in showrooms as dealers had stocked up for another year like 2008.
Dusty showroom scooters were in everywhere 2010 except in buyers hands, as sales dropped 9.5% further despite the widely available discounts on surplus scoots. 2009 and 2010 combined sold less scooters than 2008. The motorcycling industry in general was hit hard by the recession, but no other segment suffered as hard as scooters.
The pendulum always swings a bit wider with scooters, and thankfully for 2011 it swung the other way. The motorcycling industry in general was stagnant with a 0.3% decline last year, but scooters enjoyed a healthy 11.8% rise. Total sales were still a far cry from the 2006 - 2008 glory days, but over 70,000 scooters found homes last year.
For the first time in several years, the future really does look bright. Dealer inventory from the 2009 collapse is mostly cleared out, the economy might be recovering and even if it doesn’t, gas prices and austerity measures are going to push more people onto scooters in 2012. We could easily see double digit growth again and the scooter market return to six figure sales in 2012. We won’t crack the 2008 record, but we should see a nice increase again which will hopefully be the start of a new era of growth.
As an aside, Piaggio publishes a neat little market brief that describes their North American fortunes. 2011 data isn’t up yet but in 2010 Piaggio is claiming about 28,000 scooters.
February 23, 2012
PART 1: A LOOK AT THE NEW AND DEAD MODELS FOR 2012
Part one of this address looks at the new scooter models are set hit the market for 2012. Please use the poll to vote for what you think is the best and most significant new scooter for 2012.
Part two will look back at scooter sales in 2011 and evaluate the health of the scooter market specifically in the context of the larger motorcycle market. It will be another month until the full 2011 data is out, but so far 2011 looks to be a big recovery over the painful recession years (2008, 2009) and the slightly better 2010.
New 2012 Scooters:
Aprilia SR Motard 50 / 125
Genuine Buddy 170i
Genuine Psycho Buddy
Kymco People GT 200 / 300
Kymco New Sento 50 / 110 (Canada Only)
Kymco Agility City (Canada Only
Piaggio Typhoon 125
Yamaha TMAX 530 (Canada Only)
Yamaha Zuma 50F
Honda PCX 125
Kymco Sting 50
Kymco Grandvista 250
Kymco Xciting 250
The scooter scene is in a positive upswing right now and enthusiasm is high for 2012. Scooters sales recovered quite a bit in 2011 (more on that in Part 2) so the back logs of dealer inventory from 2008 and 2009 are now largely cleared out. The only model to die for 2012 without an obvious replacement is Honda’s PCX 125. The PCX strangely makes it three one year wonders in a row for Honda (SH150 & Elite 110 being the other two), which indicates either sales haven’t been good for Honda or they’re indecisive about what they want to offer to North American scooterists.
The other three dropped scooters for 2012 are from Kymco. The Xciting 250 and Grandvista 250 have been replaced in the last year or two by the newer 2011 Downtown 200 / 300 and People GT 200 / 300 scooters that are a big step up technologically. The People GT is perhaps the first truly good looking large wheeled scooter sold in North America. The smaller Sting 50 is just a scooter who’s time has come, with nicer replacements like the Like 50 already introduced a couple years back.
The new scooters for 2012 are an exciting bunch. The Aprilia SR Motard and Piaggio Typhoon 125 are basically the same machines with tweaked styling and an extra 2-stroke 50 motor option for the Aprilia. These scooters don’t break any technological ground, but they do offer great styling and low MSRPs that will reduce the number of value oriented sales that the Taiwanese (Kymco, Genuine/PGO and SYM) have been snagging.
The Genuine Buddy 170i is a nice technological boost for the popular Buddy line and should deliver even better fuel economy for a surprisingly small increase in price ($100). The 170i adds fuel injection, an oil cooler and an extra 18cc to the top of the line Buddy models. The Psycho Buddy replaces the Buddy Blackjack in Genuine’s line with its matte black paint and high performance brakes and suspension. The key new differences are the switch to the smaller 125cc motor and the inclusion of the crash bars. Buyers will probably be happy to accept 25cc less in exchange for the $500 chop to the MSRP.
Lastly Yamaha made news in summer 2011 with their early release of the all new 4-stroke Zuma / BWs 50. They played it pretty safe with the styling - choosing to just refine their existing bug eye look rather than try something new. The 4-stroke engine in itself was probably a radical enough change for the Zuma fan base. Having long been known as a peppy 2-stroke that is easily modified, the 4-stroke model will alienate some enthusiasts but attract quite a few more due to it’s increased fuel economy and refinement. While it’s always sad to see one of the last remaining 2-stroke engines go, Yamaha did replace it with perhaps the best 4-stroke 50cc engine on the market right now. No one else can claim to have a fuel injected, liquid cooled 4-stroke engine that uses more than 2-valves.
All told, there are now 52 scooters available to the USA market for 2012 from the eight largest brands which are covered on this site. The number of offerings is the highest its been in a few years and in general the lineups are fresher. With warm weather right around the corner these new models and the annual favourites will by flying out of showrooms soon.
December 15, 2011
NEW GENERATION OF YAMAHA TMAX AND HONDA CANADA RETURNS WITH 2012 RUCKUS
This week Yamaha Canada quietly updated their website with the addition of the hugely revised and improved 2012 TMAX maxi-scooter. This new generation of TMAX was announced at Milan last month and the updates have really made this a strong sports-maxi scooter. The styling is significantly overhauled and the best news is the reworked motor which puts out a lot more power and does so at lower RPMs. Also new is a bunch of convenience touches like the adjustable windscreen. MSRP is $10,499. Check out the TMAX page for the full details.
Yamaha only briefly offered the earlier generation of TMAX in Canada for 2009, so its been a few years for Canadian fans. Most likely Yamaha USA will announce the new generation of TMAX soon, but since the previous TMAX was offered there in 2011 they likely need a bit more time to clear out dealer stock. This TMAX addition to Yamaha Canada’s 2012 line likely completes their 2012 scooter stable, which began to take shape way back in mid summer with the new BWs/Zuma 50. The full 2012 scooter line from Yamaha Canada is BWs 50, Majesty and TMAX. Curiously missing for 2012 is the BWs 125 (aka Zuma 125).
2012 news is a bit more sparse from Honda Canada, who quietly updated their website today with the 2012 issue of just the Ruckus. Just like Honda USA announced a month ago, the 2012 Ruckus gets no real changes aside from a spiffy new red/white paint option which joins the always popular black color scheme. The 10th anniversary Ruckus (as it’s called only in Japan) is essentially a white Ruckus with a neat red seat and red decals. Canadian MSRP is unchanged from 2011 at $3069. The Ruckus looks to be the only 2012 scooter offering from Honda Canada, although there are still a few dusty 2010 SH150i in showrooms.
December 12, 2011
2012 KYMCO SCOOTERS FOR USA & CANADA - NEW PEOPLE GT 200 / 300, AGILITY CITY AND NEW SENTO Kymco’s 2012 line of scooter may be sorta old news, as they were announced at Kymco’s press event this summer in South Carolina. However, the full details are now out on all of these new scooters, the Motor Scooter Guide pages are written and Kymco Canada has recently made their announcement for 2012, so the topic of 2012 Kymco scooters can now be discussed in detail.
Hands down the biggest news for 2012 is the new People GT scooter, which is arriving in 200i & 300i sizes in the USA and just in the 200 variant to the Canadian market. Kymco has really stepped up with this new scooter that replaces the old People S. The new People GT models feature way nicer styling - perhaps the best yet from Kymco and certainly a big step beyond the previous People and People S lines.
These scooters also leap frog past the People S with their advanced new motors. The People S scooters used the same long running motors Kymco has been using for years, while the People GT 300 gets the new 4-valve fuel injected motor also found in the nice Downtown 300i model. The GT 200i scooter gets a new 205cc fuel injected 4-valve motor that it shares with the new smaller 200i sibling to the Downtown 300i. Accordingly, power and fuel milage are both much improved. Check out the People GT and Downtown pages for complete info on these great new models from Kymco.
Kymco Canada is only bringing in one People GT scooter (the 200i) and one Downtown model (300i), but they’ve gone a step beyond Kymco USA in a few other areas by introducing the new Agility City and New Sento models. The Agility City is a more fully featured and larger wheeled version of the cheaper Agility sold in the USA, while the New Sento is a fresh update on Kymco’s retro scooter model. Kymco USA is likely skipping the New Sento model because they are already offering the retro Like 50 & Like 200, which compete very closely.
The Agility City is only being sold by Kymco Canada in a 50cc 4-stroke size, but overseas Kymco makes countless variations. The New Sento is positioned as Kymco’s top of the line 50 with an updated fuel injected motor that makes about 20% more power and delivers improved MPG as well.
In the USA, quite a few older or redundant models were dropped for 2012 to make way for these new scooters. Kymco USA has axed the Sting 50 (similar to the Like 50), the 4-stroke Super 8 50 (being outsold by the 2-stroke 50) and the Grandvista 250 and Xciting 250 are gone with the Downtown 300i filling this spot.
Kymco Canada had a less congested line up to being with, so the only casualty for 2012 is the older Sento 50 which is replaced by the New Sento scooters.
November 08, 2011
2012 HONDA SCOOTER ANNOUNCED: RUCKUS AND SILVERWING
Today Honda USA announced their 2012 line of scooters, which is going to consist of only the Ruckus and Silverwing. Gone is the PCX 125 and any hopes of other scooters like the Met, Elite 110 and SH150i returning after a year or two absence.
The best news for 2012 is ‘10th Anniversary Edition’ of the Ruckus, which gets some special design touches including a classy red seat. Honda USA isn’t calling this Ruckus a 10th anniversary model, but this same color scheme was announced by Honda Japan (who designed this scooter) as a 10th anniversary model two months ago. Honda USA is calling this a White/Red Ruckus and it joins Black as the second color option for 2012. The White/Red Ruckus is essentially a white Ruckus (sold in 2006) but with a red seat and red side decals. Look for it in showrooms in February.
On the other end of the scooter spectrum, Honda’s steady selling Silverwing scooter will be around for another year (its 11th). No new colors are being made available for this scoot, so your choices for 2012 will be black, black or black.
One of the most interesting developments today was that the PCX 125 isn’t returning. Honda seems to be making a strong global push with this model and they put some serious R&D into it, so it’s surprising to see it disappear from the USA lineup after just one year. It’s hard to imagine sales were too bad considering the 2011 PCX 125 was priced fairly well and it’s an attractive looking scooter. As is always a possibility, perhaps Honda just brought in too many and they’re taking a year off. The non-return of the PCX 125 was the only thing wrong with the Motorscooter Guide 2012 Honda Scooter Lineup prediction, which guessed 2 months back that we’d see Ruckus, PCX and Silverwing for 2012.
The Elite 110 and SH150 are two Honda scooters that had already taken a year off after being only offered in 2010. Since these scooters weren’t announced for 2012, that pretty much confirms Honda isn’t going to sell those scooters here again. That’s really too bad, as the Elite 110 is a really nice little Honda. It’s got all the right attributes of a good Honda scooter - physically small size, clean styling, modern engine and lots of well engineered aspects like the storage areas.
Finally, all hope can now be extinguished for the return of Honda’s Metropolitan / Jazz scooter, having most recently been offered in 2009. The only Honda scooter to ever return the North American market after 3+ years away is the Helix, which accomplished this feat twice (not sold 1988 - 1991 and 2001 - 2003). The absence of the Met leaves a hole in Honda’s thin lineup. Hopefully we’ll see some new great small scooters from Honda for 2013.
September 10, 2011
HONDA SCOOTER LINEUP PREDICTIONS FOR 2012
The 2012 model year is approaching, with Honda traditionally announcing their next years line up sometime in September or October. At present, one can only speculate what Honda might do for next year. It seems to me that the SH150i is not coming back. While Honda often skips model years as they did for 2011, the SH150i didn’t seem to sell that well in 2010 and Honda’s newer PCX 125 seems to have the SH150’s spot in the line up covered.
I do expect we’ll see the PCX 125 return as Honda has high hopes for that scooter as a world wide model and it is indeed a great scooter. Scooter sales were slower in 2011 though, so it’s possible Honda will skip a year. The Elite 110 is a tough call, because this is a great little scooter but it also overlaps a lot with the PCX 125.
One of these years the long-running Silverwing is going to get the axe, but it has avoided being dropped for a decade now so I bet it’ll hold on for another year yet. Since Honda doesn’t really have a replacement for it, most likely the Silverwing will return with the usual new color offering and continue to sell at low numbers.
The most interesting area for 2012 is the 50cc segment. The Metropolitan wasn’t sold for 2010 or 2011, but Honda definitely needs to fill this spot (50cc aimed at urban/retro/female riders) in it’s lineup now that existing dealer inventories are pretty much depleted, so I think we’ll either see the return of the Met or a replacement sometime in the next year or two. My guess is we’ll get something new, but not until 2013 or later. I think the safest bet for 2012 is that the rugged Ruckus will again be offered because Honda has little else like it and it’s a popular scooter every year. The Ruckus design is long paid off and I think it’ll continue to be sold until sales eventually drop too low...which could be many years away.
Honda Canada usually has a very similar lineup as Honda USA, so we can learn a bit from the situation there. In Canada, the SH150 and Jazz (same scooter as Metropolitan) are both being cleared out a steep discounts (ie. $1000 off a Jazz) so it’s pretty clear these scoots aren’t coming back to Canada or likely to the USA. The Silverwing is also completely gone from Honda Canada’s website (last offered for 2009 there) so it’s days are likely numbered in the USA as well.
So without further ado, my predication for Honda’s 2012 Scooter Lineup is: Ruckus, PCX 125 and Silverwing. I’d love to see a 50cc replacement for the Met which is going to be less retro and more modern - perhaps the Honda Today or Giorno - but I don’t think that’s going to happen until 2013 or 2014. While I’m at it, I’ll guess Honda USA’s 2013 lineup is going to be Ruckus, new modern styled 50cc and PCX 125.
The above list is what I think is most likely to happen, but perhaps Honda is reading this so it would be a shame not to mention what I would like to happen. I would love to see Honda add a sports scooter to their 50cc offerings. This scooter would of course be the Dio which is looking particularly sharp these days (see left). Please give us a nice JDM spec and not a stripper model with drum brakes and devoid of neat features.
Besides the soon to be hugely popular Dio, of course they would keep the Ruckus, but please upgrade it to the fuel injected, 4 valve engine found in Europe. Maybe the carb can stay to make working it easier, but please give us 4 valves for a little more power.
The Elite 110 would stay because it’s a great little Honda and so would the PCX 125. Fleshing out Honda’s lineup would be the nice 250cc Forza. The Forza is an awesome new model that looks a lot like a big brother to the PCX 125. I’d be fine to see the Silverwing go away for a year or two (or maybe try offering the Silverwing 400 GT instead to mix it up). The Silverwing has been a good scooter but it’s due for a redesign. If Honda isn’t going to give it any attention then they axe it.
The Metropolitan could stay, but I’d rather Honda mixed it up for a couple year and offered us the Today or Giorno that are sold overseas. For a look at some of the fine scooters Honda offers overseas, check out Honda’s Japan Lineup.
August 19, 2011
NEW YAMAHA’S FOR 2012
It’s now mid-August, which means we’re only a couple months away from the main period of announcements for the 2012 scooter lineups from the major manufacturers. Yamaha has early announced their new 2012 Zuma 50 / BWs 50, so check out that page for complete information on that new model. In a surprise move, Yamaha has gone with a 4-stroke engine in the new generation of Zuma. Accordingly, the 2011 Yamaha Zuma 50 is likely the last 2-stroke scooter we’ll ever see from Yamaha in the North American market.
The other early Yamaha news for 2012 is the return of Majesty, which was missing for 2011. Sometime in September or October, we can expect to learn which existing Yamaha scooters will continue to make the cut for 2012.