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Motorcycle Dealers: End Of The Road?

23
November
2010
  Posted at 05:00:00 PM
  File under  Electrical Opinion
  Author: Mike Werner
  Location: Normandy, France

Are we seeing the end of an era, that of the local motorcycle garage that sells you your motorcycle, maintains it and a place you can go and talk to like-minded bikers? Already the global economic crisis has made a lot of dealers close their doors, despite the fact that the motorcycle industry has weathered the financial storm much better than their four-wheel counterparts.

But what can really hurt the old fashion motorcycle dealer? How about the upcoming electric motorcycles? Will they be sold through traditional outlets, or are we going to see other ones.

Future Electric Motorcycle Dealer

Nontraditional Outlets


Brammo at BestBuy

The most in-your-face recent usage of nontraditional outlets is that of BestBuy Open link in a new window and Brammo Open link in a new window. Selling the electric motorcycle through an electronics shop is a gutsy move, but probably very smart. Electric motorcycles do not need much maintenance. There's no valve adjustments to be made or oil changes. In fact, there's very little maintenance, and the ones that are required can probably be done by someone who is not a mechanic.

Most of the important parts of the motorcycle are electric. But will a potential customer feel well informed when talking to a salesrep who 10 minutes before was selling you the latest 3D plasma TV? Are electric motorcycles going to become too "popular" by selling them through a general distribution channel like BestBuy? Or will selling them through electronics supermarkets bring down the price?

Specialized Outlets


Hollywoodelectrics shop

What we also start seeing are dealers who specialize in electric motorcycles. They sell several brands and probably have more advice for potential buyers, but then they will require to make a living selling just the electric motorcycles and their paraphernalia, since the bikes do not require much maintenance. So their only real income is the margin on the bike, meaning they'll be needing to sell high volumes.

Just have a look at Los Angeles first all electric motorcycle shop, Hollywood Electrics Open link in a new window. They sell the big electric motorcycle brands (plus scooter and electric bicycles), plus a few bits & bobs.

The Future?


Is this the future, or will traditional dealers start selling electric motorcycles next to the gas guzzling ones in the hope to survive?

These are two interesting business models. The third and obvious one model, selling through a motorcycle dealer, is rare, if not, practically nonexistent. Are the traditional dealers shooting themselves in the foot by ignoring electric motorcycles, or are they doing the right thing?

Electric motorcycle vending machine

Or is there going to be a fourth distribution channel, like automatic vending machine? Plug in your credit card, and a few seconds later your electric motorcycle comes out of the machine....

If you were going to buy an electric motorcycle, where would you go? Radio Shack? Electric-Bikes-R-Us ? Or your local motorcycle dealer?





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