Dealer Expo 2008: Andretti/Power Sports Factory
March 11, 2008
Power Sports Factory, who recently announced a collaboration with motorsports legend Mario Andretti and Benelli, wasn’t taking any chances on getting exposure at DealerExpo. Every attendee’s badge had a PSF logo sticking out of the top and PSF ads were prominently placed in every official publication. They had an expensive-looking aluminum-and-glass booth in a great location right near the RCA dome entrance. And, of course they had Mario Andretti, in the flesh.
In my original story about Andretti Scooters, you may remember, I was a bit skeptical that PSF, who have been importing scooters for a few years under the Strada and Yamati names, could do justice to the Andretti name. I jokingly said “I’ll see if we can get PSF reps to buy me enough drinks at DealerExpo to change my tune.” Well, I’m happy to eat a bit of crow and report that PSF really seems to have a good product, the scooters look great, and PSF president Steve Rubakh was so hell-bent on making a good impression that he actually recognized me (or at least the 2strokebuzz logo on my t-shirt) and spent a lot of time showing me the bikes and making sure I liked what I saw (which is to say that no drinks were needed.)
Sadly, I didn’t bother reading the six hundred PSF ads and thought Mario was there all weekend, so I missed meeting him in person, but Rubakh saved an autograph and a ballcap for me (I’m a cheap date) and emailed some photos of Andretti posing with the bikes. Rubakh insists that Mario is very involved in the company and was very excited about the good reception from dealers on Saturday.
As with most booths, my first step was to check the VINs to see where the Benellis were manufactured. Interestingly, the bikes sported a large, prominent registration plate on the inner legshield which proudly featured a Qianjiang (“QJ”) logo. Rubakh explained that Benelli is owned by Qianjiang and all Benellis are manufactured there. The European-market bikes are assembled at a Benelli factory in Italy, but all U.S. market Benellis will be shipped to PSF in New Jersey from QJ fully assembled. Three of the Andretti models are not badged as Benellis, they are manufactured by CPI, and badged with the Yamati and Andretti names. After seeing the same scooters at every booth, it’s nice to report that all the Andretti models appear to be unique to the PSF lineup (in fact, though CPI didn’t have a booth this year, the Andretti-badged CPIs appear to be unique to PSF in the U.S.)
The Benelli-branded models’ fit and finish was very impressive (The S260 wasn’t perfect, but it was a pre-production prototype). The CPI-built models were maybe not quite as sharp, but looked perfectly well-made (CPI is in Taiwan, and has factories all over the place). All the bikes will feature (Andretti sponsor) Bridgestone tires. One notable detail was the owner’s manuals, they were custom-printed by PSF in properly-translated english, and well-designed with full-color covers and a leather binder featuring the Andretti logo. I know that’s superficial, but it certainly gives the impression that PSF has really put some money and effort into making a name for themeselves and their scooters. Hopefully this impression is correct and their product quality and dealer support meet the same standard.
The models on display:
The Andretti M50 (“Benelli Pepe” in Europe) follows the Aprilia Scarabeo school of design, with 16″ wheels and a color-matched standard topbox. I’m not a Scarabeo fan, but the bike looks great in person, with red, blue, forest green, or silver paint. MSRP is $2,195.
The Andretti X50 (“Benelli QuattroNove” in Europe) is a bit motocross-inspired, with distorted “X” graphics and bright primary colors. Stock 10″ wide tires are swappable for thinner 12″ tires, and the bike features motocross-style handlebars, allowing further customization. MSRP is $2499, and a 90cc model will be available soon.
The Andretti XT150 (“Benelli Velvet” in Europe) is the top of the Andretti line, a sharp-looking commuter bike with front-and-rear discs, a small windscreen, and mid-size (12″ and 13″) wheels. Colors include commuter-friendly black, blue, red, and copper. MSRP is $3195. A 260cc version is inthe works.
The Andretti S260 (Caffé Nero in Europe) is a handsome commuter bike available in matte black or silver. The Italian model is a 250cc, so the “260″ in the name is a bit confusing. MSRP is $3995
The Andretti GP50 is the CPI Aragon GP50 minus the Lord of the Rings reference, plus a pretty trick day-glo paint scheme. In fact, with a few STP decals, this one might start looking like Mario’s 1969 Indianapolis 500 car. That’s Kawasaki’s top drag racer Ricky Gadson on the bike, he’s signed on to promote the Andretti line on the racing circuit. A less-flashy GX50 is also available.
The Andretti A90 (no photo, sorry) is a rarity these days: a 90cc 2-stroke. It bears some resemblance to other CPI bikes, but the legshield is entirely different, and the 90cc engine and tuned sports exhaust appear to be a new design. MSRP is $1749.
The Andretti RS150, looks a bit like a Kymco People and unlike anything in the current CPI roster. It features front-and-rear discs and 16″ wheels. MSRP is $2429.
I also have photos of a ZX150, but I don’t have any details on that one. Steve Rubakh will surely fill me in promptly.
All in all, I was pretty impressed with the lineup, and the pricing is pretty reasonable, though some of the 50cc models might be a hard sell, especially the X50 at $2499. It’s late in the game to be making a splash in the U.S. scooter market, the current players have a pretty strong grip, but Power Sports Factory looks to be doing everything right with their Andretti line, hopefully the good impression they made at DealerExpo extends through the entire PSF operation and translates into good sales.
Stay tuned for more news from DealerExpo 2008 (slowly but surely).