Scooter shortage?

May 21, 2008

Not to exacerbate this scooter-buying frenzy, but U.S. scooter reserves appear to be running low. Here are some things I’ve heard lately, from various sources:

  • Shops are selling scooters as fast as they can uncrate them. Some shops report they’re selling in a week what it used to take a month to sell.
  • Any red (especially) and black bikes are selling fast and hard to keep in stock.
  • Genuine’s Buddy is particularly popular and dealer stock is running low. Dealers who placed large pre-orders have a reasonable stock and are getting their orders filled, but newer and smaller dealers are having a hard time getting them and keeping them in stock.
  • Even 06 and 07 Genuine Blurs, which were being heavily discounted over the winter, are getting hard to find (and selling at original MSRP).
  • A big Genuine Stella order is on the boat now, but they’re probably mostly promised to dealers who preordered.
  • Genuine, Kymco and Sym have pretty much empty warehouses right now. Sym is expecting more in July, dunno about Kymco or Genuine (aside from the Stellas). Kymco was allegedly particularly unprepared for demand.
  • Piaggio/Vespa is very short on the popular models (MP3 500, Vespa S) and loading up deliveries with less-desirable bikes. They’re stuck with a large backlog of 06 and 07 bikes being returned from their “growth spurt” dealers that are closing down (Who would have guessed Arctic Cat customers wouldn’t spend $5K on a 2006 Piaggio BV200?).

Chances are, most of these importers will be getting more shipments in a month or so, but it’s likely their next orders will be sucked up by backorders and preorders, and take a little more time to get to the dealer floor.

What does that mean? In short, if you’re looking for a bike for this summer, and you see the bike you want, in the color that you want, buy it now. If you don’t see it, get an order in, with a deposit. Don’t expect discounts. Bigger/more established dealers seem to have prepared and are likely to have a better selection, but even so, bikes are selling fast. Newer/smaller dealers are finding it hard to get any product at all. Sunny spring saturdays are always insane at scooter dealers, and it’s even worse now, if you’re shopping seriously, take a drizzly weekday off work and show up early with cash if you want a salesperson’s undivided attention.


16 Responses to “Scooter shortage?”

  1. jrsjrNo Gravatar on May 21st, 2008 5:14pm

    Who woulda thunk it, huh?

  2. BrookeNo Gravatar on May 21st, 2008 5:52pm

    And I thought causing a false pannic about a commodity and pushing the prices far beyond it’s actual value was something they only did on Wall Street.

  3. bradNo Gravatar on May 21st, 2008 11:04pm

    I sold a nothing special scooter on Craig’s list last week, 35 offers in 8 hours before I shut the ad down. Crazy.

  4. vandalayNo Gravatar on May 22nd, 2008 9:14am

    I was at the honda/yamaha dealer this past weekend and they had scooters out the wahzoo! 2 years worth of left overs AND ’08’s a plenty. Dealer knocked 20% of a honda without me even asking. Big shortage – oh yeah.

  5. illnoiseNo Gravatar on May 22nd, 2008 9:27am

    I bet Honda and Yamaha are hurting, I don’t know how Yamaha can sell a single Vino with six thousand junky clones clogging the market. Neither brand has their “A-Game” scooters in the US, and I think prospective new scooterists are flocking to scooter-specific shops, partially because M/C shops are traditionally unfriendly.

    Brooke, I didn’t talk to you or Bob, how’re stocks at Scooterville? I’m betting you just got a large order in (seems like some other shops did too) but they’re going fast. Is Kymco delivering everything Bob ordered? I know he sold a few Blurs recently and a lot of Buddys.

  6. wulfNo Gravatar on May 22nd, 2008 9:46am

    I have to agree with traditional MC shops being unfriendly to those interested in scooters. I’ve been riding motorcycles since 8 yrs old (off-road), yet I still somehow feel insignificant and not worthy when I bring my Zuma into the Yamaha dealer for service. Plus, all the scooters they have in stock are hidden behind rows of MC, ATVs, etc. and require some careful navigation to get back there with the MCs parked so close together.

  7. BrookeNo Gravatar on May 22nd, 2008 10:06am

    No, it’s the same at scooterville. I was just joking about journos that stoke shortage panics.

  8. femsatronicNo Gravatar on May 27th, 2008 2:54pm

    The shortage is real. By Mid-June Buddies, Peoples and other popular scooters will be pretty well obliterated. None of the manufacturer / distributors were prepared for this season.

  9. scootervillainNo Gravatar on May 30th, 2008 10:36pm

    Scooterville took delivery on over 100 Genuine bikes in May. We have sold out all Buddy 125s. We have 3 St Tropez 150s left and a handful of Buddy 50s (hope you like pink or blue). Roughouse 50s. Gone. Bought the last 5 2006 Rattler 50s in the warehouse. Last four ’07 Blurs. Just got a couple each of the ’08 Stella colors. Rattler 110s 2 red 2 silver. Our June and July pre-order (which we had to forecast in March) is woefully short. Getting a few Kymco 150s. 200s and 250s next week. The cupboard could get bare very soon.

  10. pocphilNo Gravatar on June 1st, 2008 10:39am

    We sold more scooters last Saturday than we did in the entire month of April last year. We’ve contacted our distributors and given them the following order “if you have ANYTHING in your warehouse, ship it”. We placed an order at the Kymco meeting that we thought was ballsy…now we’re realizing it wasn’t even close.
    Go to your local Toyota dealer…try to buy a Prius, after they have your money they’ll tell you it’s a 7 week wait on ANY color. Smart cars are on a 5 month wait. Merritt was just told she’d have to wait 5 weeks on a new VW or Civic. We’re putting most folks on a 2 – 3 week back-order at this point.
    I predict the shortage will be all caught up just in time for the first snowfall and then we’ll get 200 bikes showing up from back-order so we can warehouse them all winter.

  11. woodyNo Gravatar on June 4th, 2008 9:39pm

    Down to 2 People 250’s and Xciting 500. One People 50 & 150 left. Like Bob, a couple of Blue Buddy’s and one pink 125. Just got 2 seafoam 125’s from backorder last month. One was pre-sold. Got one of each Stella save a couple duplicates. One St Tropez. Woofully under ordered Kymcos. But, as Phil noted, they are way behind the 8 ball and if we see our June order by mid July, I’d be surprised. Yeah. Deposits will eat up what’s coming.

  12. woodyNo Gravatar on June 4th, 2008 9:41pm

    Earily the same story in KC market. Slim pickings. Waiting, waiting on Kymcos. Not sure people beleive us when we tell then to put their deposits down now. Oh well.

  13. vandalayNo Gravatar on June 6th, 2008 8:48am

    hate to be a contrarian BUT…I went to 2 different Vespa dealers in NJ and they had plenty of stock – granted they are way pricey for what they are but still – I’m not seeing this crisis! As far as I can tell Stella’s were already hard to get for a variety of reasons so doesnt seem very different.
    Every motorcycle dealer I’ve been to in the last month has been stocked to the gills with scooters and then some – granted they are not pushing their units – but I wouldn’t say they are exactly stuck out in a shed in the back either. Good luck continuing to foist this bs on the buying public – looks like scooter dealers want to rip us off too! This is a total crock!!!

  14. BrookeNo Gravatar on June 6th, 2008 10:27am

    I don’t think it’s a crock nor is anyone trying to rip someone off. The only prices that have gone up this spring were a few of the Genuine models and that was due to the exchange taking a big dip over the winter. I haven’t heard of dealers raising prices through the springtime from what they had planned. Though I’m sure price flexibility is a lot lower. How do you feel you’re being ripped off? That said, I’m sure it probably varies greatly from area to area and possibly even from dealer to dealer. There are probably some that can’t move them for reasons completely unrelated to price or demand. Some shops just suck at selling because they are jerks or THEY are trying to charge extra for some reason. So there may be lots of scooters sitting on show room floors, but clearly they aren’t in an environment where they are selling like some places. For the folks looking for a red buddy 125, Vandalay will help you flush one out from the back room of any scooter shop. I’m sure they’re just holding them back waiting for the highest bidder.

  15. bdarlingNo Gravatar on June 7th, 2008 5:57pm

    This is as real as a heart attack! I went into my local Genuine dealer 2 weeks ago and I couldn’t even get through the showroom due to the stock they had…fast-forward to this afternoon: empty store. There were 5 scooters at the site and they were all sold! Amazing! Did I mention that 5 other customers came in for scooters in the 15 minutes I was there? I’ll just have to wait it out.

  16. scootermavenNo Gravatar on July 1st, 2008 8:15am

    We are a new dealer and can’t get any product!
    Nothing from Genuine, nothing from Kymco. Our initial inventory was gone almost immediately and we’ve been taking deposits on inventory that we’ve ordered back in April, but with no ETA from our distributors.

    Other brands (Honda, Yamaha, Vespa) may not have a problem with stock, but they probably aren’t selling like Genuine, Kymco and Sym.

    I concur with Illnoise’s description and comments. They are right on!

    If you’re in the market for a scoot and want to drive it this summer, don’t hesitate if you see a scoot you like or you may be disappointed. I don’t believe high gas prices or the fun of driving a scooter will go away, so there is always next year if you don’t get your ideal scoot this year.

    Happy Riding!

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