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Author Topic: Zero and Brammo will only thrive with more Dealerships.  (Read 3224 times)

s44captain

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Zero and Brammo will only thrive with more Dealerships.
« on: June 09, 2013, 08:28:20 PM »

Zero or Brammo need to look at honda marketing from the 60s and not today's marketing. Back when Honda first started it only took 2 or 3 bikes and minimum cash outlay to start. There should be 2 catagories or levels of dealerships. Category 1 should be a protected area with both bike and parts stocking requirements and best margin. Category 2 should be minimum buy in with just 2 or 3 bikes, no protected area and smaller margin. This would allow many of the smaller parts of the country to stock their bikes. Dealerships could be anything from a small bicycle shop or auto garage to a full on Motorcycle shop. To have the same requirements for a small town as a large city is a good way to make sure your product doesn't get purchased in small town, USA.
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Current Bikes: 2012 Zero 6S & Buell XB12
Former Bikes: 2009 Brammo & Matchless G85CS

Richard230

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Re: Zero and Brammo will only thrive with more Dealerships.
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2013, 03:32:20 AM »

I believe that Zero (at least) has several people on their staff that are very familiar with marketing motorcycles and setting up dealerships.  My guess is that some of the limiting factors to expanding their dealer network include the unfamiliarity of established motorcycle dealerships with EV's, the lack skilled technicians to work on them (potential liability concerns), worry about selling enough bikes to fund any franchise fees that Zero may charge its dealerships and potential headaches if the new technology doesn't hold up in the field, thereby having to deal with unhappy customers.  I think expanding their dealer networks, especially outside large urban areas, is a chicken and the egg thing.  If you are a small shop, you want to see how the market is going before jumping in. In the meantime you can continue to sell the IC motorcycles that you are familiar with.  Mom and Pop shops typically are adverse to risk unless they really know what they are getting into (such as Hollywood Electric). 

Today's market is nothing like it was during the early 1960's. Especially as Honda dumped a huge amount money into "the nicest people" advertizing in the popular print press. of the time - which is getting hard to find nowadays.  Plus, neither Brammo nor Zero seem to have much in the way of advertizing budgets and are relying on the mostly free internet to get the word out.  (When was the last time you saw an ad for Zero or Brammo in a magazine?)  Expanding the dealer network is just going to take time.
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Richard's motorcycle collection:  2014 14.2 kWh Zero S, 2016 BMW R1200RS, 2011 Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Classic, 2009 BMW F650GS, 2005 Triumph T-100 Bonneville, 2002 Yamaha FZ1 (FZS1000N) and a 1978 Honda Kick 'N Go Senior.

s44captain

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Re: Zero and Brammo will only thrive with more Dealerships.
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2013, 05:00:38 AM »

Richard, Honda first opened hundreds of small shops, then they did the nicest people ads. The only reason those ads worked was because they made the dealerships affordable.   Currently in our county we have no Japanese dealerships as they have priced the franchises out of reach. We used to have 2 of each brand. Now we have just 3 shops, SYM, Beta & Harley. SYM and Beta are easy buy ins. I would not doubt that SYM will bump one of the big four Japanese brands due to having affordable franchises. We have one long time electric bicycle shop but they were blown out of the water with the buy in costs. They first tried Brammo who wanted 50k+. So instead there is no electric motorcycle dealer for 200 miles. I opened my first motorcycle shop in 1970 while still in High School with just one summers savings. The brand was Taco mini bikes (about $500.00 for 3) I then added Jawa and had a nice 3 year run before moving west to work for Long Beach Honda.
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Current Bikes: 2012 Zero 6S & Buell XB12
Former Bikes: 2009 Brammo & Matchless G85CS

Richard230

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Re: Zero and Brammo will only thrive with more Dealerships.
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2013, 06:49:13 AM »

I can't recall where I bought my first Honda, a 1964 305 Superhawk.  I bought a 1962 Vespa at a large SF BMW/BSA dealer, who also sold Tohatsu's.  My second scooter was a 1963 Lambretta 150 Li Streamline and my first motorcycle a 1964 (most likely a leftover '63 model) was a Yamaha YD3 (complete with cream colored legshields), both of which were bought from an established SF Norton dealer, Al Fergoda.  Now that you mention it, the Honda ads did come later than that.  Most Honda ads at the time were in motorcycle magazines and just showed drawings and short description of their models in half page ads, as I recall.

I do recall seeing my first Suzuki 150 twin at an appliance store in Stonestown, SF. I thought that was pretty cool, as you didn't have to push off the salesperson just to look at the bike. Two years later the store was gone and I was off to AF basic training - which didn't keep me off of two wheels for more than a few months.
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Richard's motorcycle collection:  2014 14.2 kWh Zero S, 2016 BMW R1200RS, 2011 Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Classic, 2009 BMW F650GS, 2005 Triumph T-100 Bonneville, 2002 Yamaha FZ1 (FZS1000N) and a 1978 Honda Kick 'N Go Senior.

zap mc

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Re: Zero and Brammo will only thrive with more Dealerships.
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2013, 05:27:10 PM »

The problem is more fundamental that just the dealership rollout.
It's a very basic problem of bad strategy and poor management at zero because the directors don't have to live in the real world competitive environment because the company relies on investor money from Invus. Why should they care how many bikes are sold and whether they make a profit because their cosy little jobs are safe anyway! In this culture you will just attract corporate leeches with no real talent which is what we can all see at the moment.
The product cannot compete on price with the IC competition because they do not understand the market.
The dealerships cannot make any money on the product as the margin is too low. Hence you get dealership churn every year.
Zero  undermine their dealers by releasing the next years models when the current years models are still in stock at the dealer hence making the dealers sell them at a loss which cancels out any profit made on the ones they have sold.
Zero have no proper strategy to allow the public to see their bikes, they would rather employ another useless manager than get physical bikes to dealers for people to try.
 The products are unreliable and technical support is poor.
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grindz145

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Re: Zero and Brammo will only thrive with more Dealerships.
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2013, 08:14:21 PM »

First of all, the buy-in to become a Zero dealership is lower than any established motorcycle company I've seen. I don't even agree that you need a huge dealer network support. I love my local dealer and there are some incredible people that work there, but I can honestly say the the direct-to-customer "Telsa" type model is way better for the consumer. As long as the company facilitates some way to let the customer experience the product. They're doing that by traditional means with traditional dealers right now, but in the early days they had brand champions in the area, who were available for demos.

Zero makes the most reliable electric motorcycle made to date, so unless you have some vested interest in a competitor, I'm not sure why you would claim otherwise. The motorcycle market is actually really conservative, and that's why it's hard to sell an electric motorcycle. 

Brammofan

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Re: Re: Zero and Brammo will only thrive with more Dealerships.
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2013, 08:39:08 PM »

Zero makes the most reliable electric motorcycle made to date,
What's your basis behind this claim?
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Richard230

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Re: Zero and Brammo will only thrive with more Dealerships.
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2013, 03:39:52 AM »

It may or not mean anything, but I see a lot more complaints about Zero reliability and dealer issues on this board than I see on the Brammo Fan web site.  Zero is pushing their technology rapidly, but I am not sure that they have been able to manufacture their motorcycles as "glitch" free as they would like.  My guess is that next year they will take a technology breather and start working out any bugs that came along for the ride.  On the other hand, Brammo seems to have taken their time and spent several years developing and debugging the Empulse before putting it on the market.  Both methods of developing a new product have their pros and cons for the consumer and you can argue either side.  I can appreciate Zero's approach, but when you spend $14 or $16 USD on a motorcycle, you really hate to see that it has any reliability or performance problems. Fortunately, in my case, my early 2012 model is running perfectly.   :)
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Richard's motorcycle collection:  2014 14.2 kWh Zero S, 2016 BMW R1200RS, 2011 Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Classic, 2009 BMW F650GS, 2005 Triumph T-100 Bonneville, 2002 Yamaha FZ1 (FZS1000N) and a 1978 Honda Kick 'N Go Senior.

zap mc

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Re: Zero and Brammo will only thrive with more Dealerships.
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2013, 04:12:13 AM »

Well grindz145 if you have been dealer you would know how poor a business proposition it really is regardless of how it is against the start up cash required for any other marque. I have no vested interest in any other make of electric bikes I simply speak as I find and try and give some balance to the hype.

In general terms the electric motorcycle needs to be experienced in order to sell it in most cases so demonstrations are essential. So you need people and bikes in order to do this. First problem is Zero don't have any factory demos and rely on their dealers to buy bikes from them in order to let the customer try them. These "sales" are naturally loss leaders for the dealer unless they generate any retail sales after journalists have trashed them and customers racked up the miles on them.

I am a fan of the industry but the present players have no idea how to run their business because they rely on investor cash to bankroll their compainies and are not exposed to the realities of a marketplace in which they all would have surely gone bust by now.

If you can sell a bike for the same price as a IC bike you will sell some but if you want more than double for glitch ridden models then don't expect to reach escape velocity with sales volume.
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NoiseBoy

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Re: Zero and Brammo will only thrive with more Dealerships.
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2013, 03:32:50 PM »

I have to pull you up on one thing Zap.  Do your ride ICE bikes?  If so you would know that they are far from glitch free.

My first KTM fuelled so badly that it was dangerous in wet conditions.  It took months of trying and I eventually sorted it with a map from Akrapovic and an aftermarket throttle cam.  Even my old Honda had problems with brake pins rusting up and leaking fork seals etc.  You call the Zero's glitch ridden but they are certainly no worse than any ICE bike I have owned, and they have billion dollar R&D and support budgets.  If your experience has been different, you are very lucky.

I wouldn't go back to owning an ICE now and praying that the thing started on a cold wet morning.
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benswing

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Re: Zero and Brammo will only thrive with more Dealerships.
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2013, 05:29:48 PM »

It may or not mean anything, but I see a lot more complaints about Zero reliability and dealer issues on this board than I see on the Brammo Fan web site.

My interpretation of this data is that Zero has far more bikes on the road, therefore we'll see more posts about it. 

Also, getting back to the post topic, a couple of dealers I've spoken to have been wanting more bikes from Zero and are selling faster than Zero can replenish them.  So part of Zero's growing pains appears to be managing inventory since they are working hard to not overspend their investor's money while still selling motorcycles.  Not sure if this is a common problem or if I happened to speak with the dealers who are an anomaly.

Now that Zero has hinted that they intend to stay with the 2013 body for the next few years I expect the reliability to improve even more.  From 2010-2013 they basically made a brand new bike each year, so now they appear to be reaching a point of being comfortable with their offering and want to take the time and resources to perfect it.  I'm sure there will be changes, just not wholesale changes like we've seen so far.
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First to 48 states all electric!
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Justin Andrews

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Re: Zero and Brammo will only thrive with more Dealerships.
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2013, 06:00:05 PM »

Quote
My first KTM fuelled so badly that it was dangerous in wet conditions.  It took months of trying and I eventually sorted it with a map from Akrapovic and an aftermarket throttle cam.  Even my old Honda had problems with brake pins rusting up and leaking fork seals etc.

Heh, I remember my first outing on my Ol Diversion 900, when it decided to start dumping it's oil out of a connection to the oil radiator. Absolutely drenched my legs (and more worryingly the rear wheel) in oil, and I barely made it home (pouring oil into the bike on frequent stops) Frankly the occassional rough running and cut out on the ZF9 is reasonably minor compared to that. (thankfully both issues were / are being sorted out under warrenty)

Not only that but my experience of Zero's customer care is good in comparison to Yamaha's (who's dealer customer care was quite satisfactory I might add).
« Last Edit: September 19, 2013, 06:01:47 PM by Justin Andrews »
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Richard230

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Re: Zero and Brammo will only thrive with more Dealerships.
« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2013, 08:36:45 PM »

I have been buying BMW motorcycles for over 25 years and every one of them have had major problems, including broken rocker arm bearings (my 1985 bike), poor electrical systems, terrible lean-surge fuel injection issues, many safety and reliability recalls, batteries that have suddenly failed and left me stranded in the middle of nowhere, a key sensing ring that also left me stranded 100 miles from the nearest dealer, and on and on.  And this from a manufacturer who has been making motorcycles for 90 years.  You would think that they would have figured out how to get it right by now.  Not so.  Every time they finally get the bugs worked out of an old design they develop a new model and the bugs start appearing all over again.  Most long-time BMW buyers know that you never want to buy the first year version of a new model.  From that point of view, Zero has made a pretty reliable motorcycle, especially considering that they are dealing with an entirely new vehicle technology.

P.S. my 1971 Triumph Bonneville had 21 defects as it came from the factory according to my count - including the main jets sitting in the carb float bowls, an oil pressure warning light that was lit all the time, valve lash clearances that would disappear when the engine was revved over 4000 rpm and an oil drain plug needing a 250 lb-ft impact wrench to loosen.   >:(   (And how long had Triumph been making motorcycles?)
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Richard's motorcycle collection:  2014 14.2 kWh Zero S, 2016 BMW R1200RS, 2011 Royal Enfield Bullet 500 Classic, 2009 BMW F650GS, 2005 Triumph T-100 Bonneville, 2002 Yamaha FZ1 (FZS1000N) and a 1978 Honda Kick 'N Go Senior.

grindz145

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Re: Re: Zero and Brammo will only thrive with more Dealerships.
« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2013, 12:42:39 AM »

Zero makes the most reliable electric motorcycle made to date,
What's your basis behind this claim?

I can't say that I have hard numbers. However, considering how many Zeros are on the road and how many Brammo bikes are on the road, I seem to hear a disproportionally high amount of failures from the Brammos. Again, totally unscientific.

However, my point is not that either is necessarily superior, but rather that there is no major disparity, and that the bikes are generally still more reliable and require less maintenance than a gas bike.

grindz145

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Re: Zero and Brammo will only thrive with more Dealerships.
« Reply #14 on: September 20, 2013, 12:49:21 AM »

Well grindz145 if you have been dealer you would know how poor a business proposition it really is regardless of how it is against the start up cash required for any other marque. I have no vested interest in any other make of electric bikes I simply speak as I find and try and give some balance to the hype.

In general terms the electric motorcycle needs to be experienced in order to sell it in most cases so demonstrations are essential. So you need people and bikes in order to do this. First problem is Zero don't have any factory demos and rely on their dealers to buy bikes from them in order to let the customer try them. These "sales" are naturally loss leaders for the dealer unless they generate any retail sales after journalists have trashed them and customers racked up the miles on them.


The Zero demo bike policy is similar to that of any other bike manufacturer. There are no BMW factory demo bikes present at any dealership either. For serious motorcycle riders, there is a strong value proposition. For those who aren't serious riders, there is never a strong value proposition, ever. After riding the bikes I can honestly say that it makes sense financially and practically, regardless of dealer involvement.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2013, 12:54:44 AM by grindz145 »
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