Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Even With The Help Of Mario Andretti, Benelli Suffers

Even with the star power help of racing legend, Mario Andretti, promoting their line of imported motor scooters, Power Sports Factory, Inc. continues to struggle. Power Sports Factory is the exclusive importer for Benelli brand motor scooters which boast up to 75mpg economy for some models and top speeds ranging up 75mph for other models. Benelli has been a famous name in Italian motorcycles since 1911 when gas engines were first paired with bicycles.

At one time, Montgomery Ward was a major outlet for Benelli products 350cc or less. But as Japan launched entries into the motorcycle market such as Honda, Benelli watched their share of the U.S. market dramatically suffer. A few years back as Benelli once again found itself in serious financial problems, the Chinese company, Qainjiang bought the company out, however maintained the workforce in Pesaro, Italy, where European styled models are still planned. Benelli products are always very high quality products. Yet, their line of motor scooters has sold very poorly in the United States. Some dealers such as PTown Scooters in Portland, Oregon still have some unsold 2008 Benelli models sitting on their showroom floor despite several price cuts or specials.

Power Sports Factory hoped that a August 2009 strategic partnership with Boyesen Engineering, a leader in motor scooter parts, engineering and technology, would keep their company on the cutting edge. However, a few months later a scooter industry online business site reported about the dire financial situation at Power Sports Factory where the company had around $1.6 in assets and around $6 million in liabilities. Power Sports Factory would also like to enter the electric scooter market, yet a spokesman admits that little cash is available for such a move.

Power Sports Factory has proven several things here. For one, motor scooters have yet to gain much traction among American buyers like the way they sell in Asia and Europe. And even with much higher gas mileage and fun potential than automobiles, motor scooters a hard sell in the United States. Further, more restrictive motorcycle licensing laws only work to deter many from seeking out motor scooters as an option in the United States. And some states Oregon have only made things much worse for new motor scooter sales by requiring all riders to eventually pay to enroll in a motorcycle riding education course. This will only deter many from even bothering to think about motor scooters or motorcycles as an option.

I've always liked interesting transportation choices myself, so I guess being one of the first to buy a new Benelli back in 2008 also makes me one of the only persons to be driving one here in Portland. But, of all the vehicles I own, or have owned, the little Benelli is the most fun of them all in many ways.


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