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