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Britain warms to Chinese motorcycle models


Last month we looked at Llexeter’s range of motorcycles; here David McMullan speaks to Daniel Frost about the progress made by Chinese motorcycles in the UK

 

 

Hello Danny, thanks for agreeing to be interviewed! What is the general condition of the motorcycle market in Britain? Is it growing due to fuel prices or receding due to cheaper cars?

The Motorcycle market has started to grow in the UK once again after a few years of minor decline. Cars have always been available in the UK and this is even more the case through the use of Finance schemes. The increase in the market seems to be coming from the increased financial freedom allowing more premium motorcycles to sell more.

 

Have you seen a rise in Chinese motorcycle sales?

The financial impact on the lower income people in the UK is seeing our market of affordable motorcycles increase. With our new range of stylish models we’re experiencing a greater market share than ever before. So far this year we increased sales by 33%

What are peoples attitude to Chinese motorcycles?

It depends who you ask. Most people in the UK are fairly open -minded when first considering the range of motorcycles available. Unfortunately the Chinese industry still has to answer for some of the issues associated with importation that occurred back in 2005. Fortunately through developing our parts and dealer network we’ve been able to maintain the standard that our customers expect.

What are the main selling models? I.E commuters (cubs, scooters), Japanese sports bikes, American cruisers etc…

The UK market is a mixture of all different types of bikes. The only types of models that don’t tend to be popular are the CUB styled bikes. At present the market has great excitement for Adventure and Sports bikes so it would be great to see more products being produced that would allow us to compete in these categories more. For us our commuter range is most popular. This consists of modern looking low priced models that are accessible to riders looking to use the bikes as their sole method of transport.

What certificates are needed for Chinese companies to export motorcycle models to your nation?

We require EEC certification to sell within the UK. Given our reputation in the UK market we are able to register new models in our market very easily.

 

Why would your riders choose a Chinese model? Why not a Honda for example?

For us it is based around cost. The technology on the new KTM, Honda and Yamaha learner legal models is very good and we cannot compete with those brands yet. Hopefully as our suppliers become more confident we can start to compete with the models with our own innovations.

What improvements have you seen in the Chinese motorcycle industry?

There is a greater value placed on quality control from a manufacturing point of view. I think the biggest change is the confidence of factories. More and more factories are getting brave enough to produce their own designs and try and be creative. This is certainly an exciting development for us as we can now market products in their own right rather than being considered a copy of another model.

What advice would you give to the Chinese industry with regard to progress and the evolution of the export industry?

There are some great products starting to emerge from China but the Technology aspect needs to be addressed. Hopefully the mandatory ABS and EFI requirements will see the Chinese manufacturers take a step closer to challenging the Mainstream brands

What do you see as the main negative factors of the Chinese industry?

Lack of development and confidence. We take the effort to promote our imported models to national media in the UK. Whilst Honda can talk about Low friction engines, Start/Stop technology and fuel consumption figures as high as 150mpg we have to create excitement for engines that are sometimes based on technology from 30/40 years ago with a new set of plastics. We are of course able to build excitement about such models because we promote our products effectively. If however Factories want to compete with the mainstream brands they need to develop their own technology to compete.

China’s dominance is under threat from India, have you noticed this?

Not in the UK Market.

What advice would you give to a Chinese manufacturer looking to break in to your market?

Be brave and create a unique design. Involve your local contacts to find out which style of bike is in demand and involve their feedback in your development.

Are there any motorcycle exhibitions that Chinese companies could attend to promote their products?

Within Europe It would be advisable to attend EICMA or Intermot. Both of these shows will attract professionals from around Europe. If you are looking to promote within a local market then most European countries feature a national motorcycle show over the autumn and Spring months.

Do your local motorcycle trade people come to China to see the industry?

Unfortunately not. Most involved in the motorcycle trade in the UK are of the opinion that China does not provide quality manufacturing. We are working hard to ensure that the abilities of our suppliers in the Chinese industry are given recognition to discredit such absurdities.

Can you give us some information on the top 5 Chinese motorcycle importing companies?

We’re the biggest importer of Chinese motorcycles and parts in the UK. You don’t need anyone else 😛

Please tell C2W readers about your Llexter and its goals….

Llexeter Ltd is the UK’s largest motorcycle and parts importer dealing with China. We have 120,000sqft parts storage area with capacity for 4000 vehicles. Within the UK we have 130 motorcycle dealers for our Lexmoto brand of Motorcycles and Scooters. We are the Only Chinese brand to feature in the UK top 10 manufacturers and are the only Chinese brand to be considered as a major brand by the NMDA (National Motorcycle Dealers Association). In 2014 we were voted as Scooter franchise of the year ahead of all other brands including even Honda, Yamaha and Piaggio. With an annual output of over 6000 units and with a 2015 growth of 33% this year so far we are looking forward to increasing our market share further.

 

 


May 9, 2016
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