Petrol prices rocket, scooters slump

Yamaha D'elightDespite petrol prices soaring to as much as $1.66.9 a litre, the scooter market continues to be in a slump, down 13.5% in the first six months of the year from 5483 to 4760.
It almost defies reason since scooters are such a miserly transport solution.
However, there could be a number of factors at play here: the Chinese, LAMS and names.
First the Chinese.
A few years ago when petrol prices soared and the GFC hit, people turned to scooters for cheap transport and the market boomed.
Unfortunately, a lot of backyard importers brought in cheap Chinese scooters and flooded the market with brands no one had heard of, nor since. The inferior models fell apart, had no warranties and customers were stranded with no warranty or back-up.
You get what you pay for, I suppose, but the level of product was simply a disgrace to the industry.
Fortunately, those brands have since left the market and we are left with the good quality scooter product.
Unfortunately the consumer has been burned and it will be difficult to get them back on scooters anytime soon.
The second problem for the scooter market is that all states have since introduced the Learner-Approved Motorcycle Scheme which means there are a lot more models competing for the learner and P plater.
We don’t have much of a scooter culture in Australia, so when young learners look for a beginner vehicle they are more likely to pick from the handsome range of LAMS models rather than opt for a scooter.
The third factor against scooters are the names the companies give them.
Would you rather ride a Yamaha Bee Wee or a Ducati 659 Monster?
The latest scooter is a Yamaha 125cc D’elight. It’s probably a great scooter, but that name is just a bit too twee.
Yamaha has 30 scooter models, but we only get six in Australia and it is unlikely we will be getting this one.
But Yamaha isn’t the only company with strange names for scooters (they also have a Jog and a Vity).
Here are some of the strangest scooter names in our market: Nifty, Besbi, Today, Alien, Like, Espresso, Ego, Jolie and Taku.
There are also some exciting names, such as Mojito, Sprint, Jetmax, Outlaw, Lightning Bolt, Wasp and Flash. Mind you, calling small capacity scooters – some as low as 49cc – names like Flash and Lightning Bolt only serves to make a mockery of the machines.
Aprilia SRV 850I’ve got a soft spot for scooters and I’m really looking forward to testing Aprilia’s SRV 850, the biggest capacity scooter on the market. It’s also the first with ABS and traction control.
I’ll be taking it on a 1200km two-day tour next week to see if it measures up as a real touring bike alternative.

4 Comments

  1. Well, I just bought a scooter and not a cheapie, either – I spent over 8k on a Piaggio Beverly … as did a few other people I know through a scooter forum. So it’s not all doom and gloom 🙂

  2. Right-on Mark (as I sit in a scooter showroom without a customer all week!). Ask around almost all retail and you will see that it is very quiet out here. We are in the ‘toy’ market and while it makes cents (sense) to spend up on a scooter which will ease parking and transport costs people are reluctant to spend at the moment. A spike in fuel costs generally brings more people to at least consider a scooter (or motorcycle) but the over-riding concern is income security at the moment. Keep up the fight.

  3. In Italy anyone over age of 14 can ride a 50cc scooter. Kids ride them to school and learn road skills, motorists respect the place of scooters as a means of volume mass transit. In Australia we have licence requirements that are unrealistic. Teach people about scooter riding and etiquette and let them do it on a general car licence

    1. In Queensland you must have a car licence for a year before being able to get a bike/scooter licence. It should be the other way around. Also, Queensland and WA allow people with a car licence to ride a 50cc bike/scooter without having to pass any tests! The system is simply all wrong.

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