United Motors Comments on Pennsylvania Problems

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A cycle importer is offering interest-free flooring to Pennsylvania dealers to make up for a new title registration process that has hurt sales.

As we reported earlier this week, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is forcing dealers to send registration paperwork for Chinese-made scooters to Harrisburg for examination. Much of the paperwork has failed due to improper VIN registration with the federal government. Importers are trying to remedy the situation, but Washington has been slow to update its database. Meanwhile, dealers suffer while most customers aren’t willing to wait two weeks to ride their scooter home.

Shortly after the story posted, we received an e-mail from Jose Villegas, VP of sales and marketing for Florida-based importer United Motors. He told us the information we received from a dealer about his company (information which the dealer himself says he received from PennDOT) was incorrect. PennDOT reportedly had told the dealer that the actual paper UM’s statements of origin were printed on was unacceptable.

But the paper is fine, according to Villegas. He says PennDOT only requested that the factory name be put at the top of the MSOs, and that UM update its VIN decoder to include a 170cc category for the company’s Matrix 150. “We have corrected the MSOs, which will allow dealers to register 150cc scooters without any problem, and we have also submitted the VIN decoding update to NHTSA,” Villegas says. “This unfortunately takes some time.”

Meanwhile UM is offering extensions of interest-free flooring for the scooters that can’t be registered. UM is making these offers on a case-by-case basis.

Villegas says he deals with registration issues with other states at least twice per year. “States love to create their own rules, regulations and complications,” he says. “This year Georgia and Pennsylvania; last year Connecticut and Florida. Somebody without any knowledge about our industry rules in favor of absurd processes, regulations and requirements, and they affect importers, dealers and their local economy.” He says the issue in Florida cost UM and its dealers at least $2 million.

Unfortunately, some might say, suing a government agency like PennDOT is rarely an option for small importers. “These actions hurt business, and in some way are discriminatory against the Chinese industry,” Villegas says. “But we have learned that the last thing you want to do is confront the state and make them your enemy.”