Two wheels will be a hot­ter-than-ever trend this year as costs

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE -

RIS­ING pub­lic trans­port costs could lead to a boom in scoot­ers.

Sales bounced back last year, but one of Aus­tralia’s top scooter re­tail­ers be­lieves they will rise even fur­ther this year with pub­lic trans­port costs soar­ing 15 per cent.

In­dus­try fig­ures from the Fed­eral Cham­ber of Au­to­mo­tive In­dus­tries show sales of bikes, all-ter­rain ve­hi­cles and scoot­ers were up 3226 or 3 per cent to 109,067, while new-car sales dropped 2.6 per cent.

FCAI ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Ian Chalmers says scooter sales were up 8.9 per cent to 11,374 as peo­ple sought to ‘‘avoid high petrol prices and in­creas­ingly con­gested met­ro­pol­i­tan roads’’.

Ma­jor scooter re­tailer Joe Der­cole pre­dicts scooter sales to climb this year.

‘‘I can’t be­lieve even more peo­ple aren’t buy­ing cheaper trans­port, es­pe­cially with pub­lic trans­port costs ris­ing’’ said Der­cole whose Scoot­poia busi­ness was the top seller of Vesa and Pag­gio scoot­ers last year.

‘‘Scooter sales have come back, but not to pre-gfc boom lev­els.

‘‘It’s a bit like what hap­pened with the so­lar scheme — peo­ple started im­port­ing cheap Chi­nese imports and they’ve failed.

‘‘The deal­ers that are still sur­viv­ing are those with name brands.

‘‘ I’ve seen 19 scooter shops come and go in Bris­bane alone since I started sell­ing scoot­ers in 1995.’’

Stephen Alden­ton is a scooter con­vert who be­lieves he’s saved more than $12,000 on trans­port costs in the past 6½ years since buy­ing his 150cc Vespa.

The re­tired army of­fi­cer has even pre­pared an Ex­cel spread­sheet on the com­par­a­tive costs of driv­ing his car and scooter.

‘‘I’ve worked out the cost of run­ning my old Mercedes is about 70c per kilo­me­tre and the Vespa is about 16c, so I save about 54c per kilo­me­tre,’’ he says.

‘‘It’s the best thing I ever did. Mind you, I get a bit wet when it rains and you have to watch out for the traf­fic — young girls in red cars in par­tic­u­lar — and you have to keep your wits about you, but it’s a good thing and I don’t have any park­ing prob­lems.’’

Along with scoot­ers, ATVS were also up (18.4 per cent to 3486), sales of road and off-road mo­tor­cy­cles re­mained rea­son­ably static through­out the year.

Sales of road bikes re­cov­ered strongly in the fourth quar­ter of 2011 fin­ish­ing the year 1.4 per cent ahead of 2010 with 38,628 sales.

The only seg­ment not to grow in 2011 was off-road mo­tor­cy­cles, with sales vol­umes de­clin­ing 4.5 per cent (1735 sales).

Mr Chalmers says that de­spite the de­cline in of­froader sales, seven of the top 10 mo­tor­cy­cles are dirt bikes.

‘‘Aus­tralians con­tinue to em­brace motorcycling as a favoured recre­ational ac­tiv­ity, and off-road mo­tor­cy­cles fill this role par­tic­u­larly well,’’ he says.

‘‘The off-road seg­ment re­mains the sec­ond largest, ac­count­ing for 36,637 sales, al­most 34 per cent of the to­tal mar­ket.’’

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