Offshore ATV makers face quality, competition concerns
All terrain vehicles built in China and Taiwan may be in for a rough ride in the US, as the machines have come under criticism that they may be unsafe and are not well made. In addition, some North American and Japanese manufacturers complain these imports don’t have to adhere to the same safety and quality standards as they do.
Established ATV OEMs also claim the foreign machines are being sold at considerably lower prices, and that many of the ATVs—some of which are smaller models meant for children as young as six years old—are being sold on the Internet for less than $500.
Beyond concerns for lost business, larger ATV producers also fear a consumer backlash against the entire industry if these imported vehicles cause any increase in ATV-related injuries.
To fight back, the major North American and Japanese ATV manufacturers have taken the bold move to ask US Congress to approve legislation that would create mandatory safety standards for ATVs.
“Our legislation would simply require that all persons that sell or distribute ATVs for sale in the United States would comply with the industry safety standards and have appropriate training programs, warnings and labels,” says David Murray, a lawyer who represents Yamaha. “The major established companies believe in the importance of making sure that ATVs that are sold in the United States are quality products that comply with the industry safety standards.”
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says it has had some trouble getting at least one Chinese ATV manufacturer to comply with a safety-related recall. The CPSC issued a strongly-worded warning about the Kazuma Meerkat 50 Youth ATV, saying it lacks front brakes, has no parking brake, no neutral indicator light and can be started in gear.
Typically, the CPSC works with the manufacturer to issue a voluntary recall on a product that is believed to have a defect. The CPSC, however, says that Kazuma Pacific, which makes the Meerkat 50, did not cooperate.
“At the moment, the industry safety standards are voluntary. As a consequence, it becomes more difficult for the CPSC to enforce a manufacturer’s failure to comply with the standards,” Murray told ATV.com. “In the case of the Meerkat, it has basically thumbed its nose at the commission.”
Despite all the criticism of the Chinese and Taiwanese produced ATVs, some companies are trying to change the way they are perceived.
Adly Moto LLC of Irving, Tex. has made a splash since it started selling vehicles in the United States less than two years ago. Adly Moto is the United States division of Her Chee Industrial, a Taiwanese OEM that has been manufacturing products for more than 30 years and has supplied items for companies such as Bombardier, Arctic Cat and Kymco.
Terry Nesbitt, who is Adly Moto’s vice-president of sales and marketing, has almost 30 years experience with Polaris and Kawasaki. He says he doesn’t feel that Adly Moto ATVs suffer from any lack of quality compared to ATVs produced by the bigger OEMs.
“I don’t think we have to apologize or take a back seat. Our quality is very, very good,” Nesbitt told ATV.com. “From a marketing standpoint, we are trying to raise ourselves above the noise, for lack of a better term. We are making concerted marketing and branding efforts to separate ourselves, even from the Chinese (ATVs).
Nesbitt says the major difference between Adly ATVs and some of the other Chinese and Taiwanese-produced ATVs is that Adly Moto is an OEM. Like the bigger OEMs, Adly Moto manufactures and assembles all of its own major components, whereas some of the smaller Chinese and Taiwanese companies buy many of their components from multiple companies and just put them together.
“There is a major difference in a distributor that’s private labeling product, seeking out other products or mix and matching parts and pieces, versus an OEM,” says Nesbitt.
Nesbitt also notes that Adly Moto offers a full one-year warranty on its ATVs, which is something the big OEMs have just started to do.
“Our products are not the cheapest out there,” says Nesbitt. “We do enjoy what I believe is an across the board price edge over the Big Seven (Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Polaris, Arctic Cat and BRP). It’s a modest advantage, but we are not price-competitive with stereotypically the average Chinese counterpart product.
As far as service is concerned, Nesbitt says all of Adly’s 150-plus dealers have to supply parts and service. Though the vehicles are made completely in Taiwan, most parts and accessories are available in the U.S.
“I think this year we are running about a 96 per cent parts fill rate. I don’t know if some of the majors could brag any better,” says Nesbitt. “We offer service manuals, owner manuals, training manuals – support in most any way. We think we’re comparable with the Big Seven.”
Nesbitt doesn’t see Adly vehicles having the same concerns and issues with the CPSC as the Meerket 50.
“All of our products are EPA approved and DOT certified. We offer to provide product liability insurance for our dealers and our customers. We have not been involved to date in any of these types of issues with safety,” says Nesbitt. “As far as a voluntary recall, absolutely we would if we identified an issue with one of our products.”
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