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. Visitors to Dealer Expo weren't likely to miss the company. It was a major sponsor of the show, it had one of the largest displays on the floor of Lucas Oil Stadium, and it had a smaller exhibit in the Indiana Convention Center.
The big push reflected CFMOTO's aggressive plan to build its brand in the U.S. and elsewhere using a business model that is similar to the one used by the Japanese, 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 90 percent of its U.S. subsidiary and is building its brand.
The company also is developing its own proprietary products in its new Chinese factory, not merely assembling copies of other machines. The 1.6 million sq. ft. facility has a daily production capacity of 400 engines, 400 two-wheelers 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 had several interesting machines at Indy:
- Leading the way was 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 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," Ivan Escalante, CFMOTO's sales manager, told Dealernews.
- Also on display was 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 midyear.
- Dealers also saw a prototype of the company's new sport UTV, as well as a concept three-wheel vehicle.
CFMOTO reportedly has big plans for its U.S. subsidiary, even though the market has some limitations for powersports equipment. On the positive side, said Escalante, "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 noted.
CFMOTO has targeted the 250cc automatic motorcycle segment with its V3 and V5 models. "This sets us aside from everyone else," Escalante asserted. "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 said. "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-to-consumer marketing, Escalante said, including shows, bike rallies and print advertising. — Joe Delmont
CYCLE COUNTRY TEAMS WITH CFMOTO
Cycle Country has partnered with CFMOTO to provide accessories for the importer's vehicles. So far the accessory maker has developed products such as a safari rack, tailgate extender, baja bar, spare tire carrier, snow plow mounts and blades for CFMOTO ATVs and UTVs. All are expected to be available soon through distributors.
"Aftermarket accessories for our product lineup are very important for our brand recognition. They help legitimize our name," said Ivan Escalante, CFMOTO's sales manager.
Cycle Country's Aaron Schulz added: "We are continuing to work with CFMOTO to develop a complete line of accessories for all riders, whether they are working, hunting, fishing, riding trails or plowing snow."