If you're considering adding a Chinese product line this year — perhaps ATVs or scooters — you might want to add CFMOTO to your list of prospects. You're not likely to miss them this weekend. The company is a major sponsor of this year's show, it has one of the largest displays on the floor of Lucas Oil Stadium (Booth 8501), and it is operating a smaller 300 sq. ft. exhibit in the Indiana Convention Center (Booth 1241).
"We're planning for a very successful Indy show this year," says Ivan Escalante, national sales manager for the company which is based in suburban Minneapolis.
The big push this weekend reflects CFMOTO's aggressive plan to build its brand in the U.S. and elsewhere using a business model that is similar to that used by Japanese powersports companies — but one that is unusual for Chinese factories. Instead of partnering with an importer/distributor based in the U.S. and selling machines under the partner's brand, CFMOTO has purchased its own U.S. subsidiary and is building its CFMOTO brand. The company owns 90 percent of its U.S. subsidiary.
The company also is developing its own proprietary products in its new factory in Yuhang, a manufacturing town several hours outside Shanghai, China, not merely assembling copies of other machines. The 1.6 million sq. ft. facility has a daily production capacity of 400 engines, 400 motorcycles/scooters and 120 ATVs.Plans call for the company to be producing 1000cc and 800cc ATV/UTVs in three to five years in the new facility and an 800cc two-wheeler this year.
CFMOTO has several interesting machines at Dealer Expo:
- Leading the way is the new electronic fuel injected 150cc scooter, the Glory. It has an LCD display, front/rear disc brakes, a 330 lb. carrying capacity and a top speed of 55 mph.
- CFMOTO's new 500cc UTV was shown as a prototype at last year's show. This year, the company has a production model ready and in stock for shipment. "Many things have been reworked on the machine, and it is awesome," Escalante tells Dealernews.
- Also on display is the new 250cc Maxi scooter JetMax, sporting a new design and new features, including a powerful four-valve motor that will be ready for delivery by mid-year.
- Dealers also will be able to see a prototype of the company's new sport UTV this weekend, as well as a concept three-wheel vehicle.
2009 Plans. CFMOTO has big plans for its U.S. subsidiary, even though the market has some limitations for powersports equipment. On the positive side, Escalante says, "there are many consumers looking for alternative transportation. We offer affordable solutions that consumers can buy with their credit card." The company also offers third-party financing through Sheffield Financial.
"Most consumers will be very careful this year; they will be shopping for best value; it won't be an impulse buy, and consumers will do their homework," he notes.
CFMOTO has targeted the 250cc automatic motorcycle segment with its V3 and V5 models. "This sets us aside from everyone else," Escalante argues. "We offer a unique, affordable and high quality product. There are very few automatic motorcycles on the market and most are more expensive, so we own a strong segment in this market."
Escalante expects to add about 100 dealers this year, bringing the U.S. total to about 300 dealers by year-end. But the dealers will be handpicked, and none of them will be selling units on the Internet.
"We deal with only brick-and-mortar dealers," he says. "We do not sell online, and we do not allow our dealers to sell online. Our reputation is very important to us. We offer very high-quality product out of China, probably the best, we back it with a two-year warranty, unlimited mileage. We are the only true Chinese OEM and we are here to stay."
CFMOTO will back its dealers with aggressive direct consumer marketing, Escalante says, including shows, bike rallies and print advertising.