KYMCO's 50 years of devotion:
A local motorcycle factory becomes an internationally famed company
◎English translation: Wendy Wei Chang
Kwang Yang Motor Co. Ltd, (KYMCO), established in Kaohsiung, has spent half a century diligently developing its motorcycles. Today, KYMCO's motorcycles are found in 97 countries across five continents. Within Taiwan, it has been the best-selling motorcycle brand every year since 2000.
Established in 1963, KYMCO was for a long time in a partnership with Japan's Honda Motor Co. Ltd. The two companies worked together for 33 years. During the partnership, KYMCO built up its industrial capacity. In 1992, after the two companies had terminated their partnership, KYMCO launched its own motorcycle brand. According to KYMCO General Manager Mr. Ke Jun-Bin, the company's sophisticated manufacturing skills for step-through scooters are, without a doubt, among the very best in the world. KYMCO currently has 4,800 employees globally, half of whom are Taiwanese. In addition, KYMCO has factories and marketing divisions in the USA, the UK, Luxembourg, China, the Philippines, and Vietnam. In 2013, KYMCO's revenue was NT$36.65 billion, with total motorcycle sales of 12 million units.
Walking into KYMCO's Kaohsiung factory, one is immediately impressed by the massive scale of its production line, which is comparable to anything operated by better-known multinationals. Fifty workers assemble different components for this year's new scooter, the "Many 125" model launched in July. Around 40% of the motorcycles' main components, such as the engines, are made by KYMCO. It takes five minutes to complete the production cycle, which includes 52 steps. A fully assembled scooter is finished every 50 seconds, and the Kaohsiung factory produces 1,800 to 2,200 motorcycles per day.
KYMCO started to expand into overseas markets back in 1979. The company started in Italy, the country from where step-through scooters originated, and Europe's largest consumer motorcycle market. Scooters are KYMCO's specialty, and the company eventually achieved third place in Italy's imported-scooter market, with a market share of 15% to 17%. In terms of quality, KYMCO scooters are comparable to other international brands, but they have the advantage of being 5% to 10% cheaper. KYMCO's attractive prices have allowed the company to prosper in Europe. Building on their initial success in Italy, KYMCO's scooters and ATVs have achieved first, second or third place in the imported-motorcycle markets in Germany, Spain, and France.
KYMCO's impressive success can be attributed to its customized products. Consumers in different countries have different expectations, and the company has found it is important to obtain accurate information about these expectations, so it can tailor its motorcycles to match local needs. Customer feedback is tremendously valuable to KYMCO. The company collects feedback from sales agents and at events such as the Milan EICMA Motorcycle Show. KYMCO continues to develop new equipment and technologies to produce motorcycles which meet consumers' expectations.
Every year, KYMCO commits 6% to 7% of its operating revenue (more than NT$1 billion) to R&D. The company has 561 research staff around the world, including 444 in Taiwan. KYMCO's emphasis on R&D results in it obtaining 130 to 160 patents per year. For ten years, the company has partnered with BMW in Germany, Kawasaki Heavy Industries in Japan, and Arctic Cat in the USA. Through these partnerships, KYMCO has been able to learn detection and measurement techniques which are key to the development of motorcycles with larger engines. As a result, KYMCO has won a reputation for being able to produce powerful motorcycles, comparable in quality to those made by US or UK companies. In 2011, BMW revealed that its 450cc off-road motorcycle was to be outsourced to KYMCO for production in Taiwan. Since then, KYMCO's reputation and popularity has grown thanks to strong sales in Germany, Italy, and Spain.
Europe used to be KYMCO's main export destination. However, due to Europe's economic crisis and increasing sales in Central and South America, KYMCO's sales are now balanced between Europe and the Americas. In one deal, Mr. Ke says, KYMCO sold all the used and scrap vehicles it had in Taiwan to Nigeria. Nigeria's high demand for such goods eventually exceeded KYMCO's supply, and as a result KYMCO unexpectedly opened a new sales channel in Nigeria.
As for Asian markets, it is possible to anticipate the sales of a motorcycle model throughout the region by looking at its sales in Taiwan. Generally speaking, if a particular model sells a lot in Taiwan, it will also attract many customers in Japan, Korea, and China. KYMCO motorcycles are durable and stable, and KYMCO was the first motorcycle maker in Taiwan to offer two-year warranties. KYMCO's road tests for new motorcycles are stricter than the government's, so the quality of its motorcycles is trusted by customers. By integrating modern designs, KYMCO continuously develops new products that are fashionable and attractive. As Taiwan's leading motorcycle company, KYMCO believes that in order to excel, the company has to go the extra mile to stay innovative. Speaking of KYMCO's outlook, Mr. Ke says he hopes KYMCO's motorcycles can match the quality and price of other international brands.
To make its business more sustainable and efficient, KYMCO has established a network of 3,500 exclusive dealerships and 6,000 non-exclusive dealerships. KYMCO has also given a brighter and cleaner look to 250 recently-renovated dealerships, naming them "KYMCO Excellent Network." KYMCO hopes its customers can enjoy more transparent services in terms of pricing and maintenance, as well as a more comfortable environment in its renovated dealerships.
踏進光陽工業高雄廠裝配作業線，窺見國際機車大廠井然有序的線上作業。完成車裝配線上有50位作業員在線上進行組裝作業，正在組裝今( 2014)年7月新上市取名為「Many 125」的速克達車款，從第一個工作站到下線完成歷時5分鐘，總計52道程序，每間隔約50秒就組裝完成一部機車，高雄廠每天生產1,800至2,200部機車。其中主要零件如引擎等，整部機車四成核心零組件為光陽工業自行產製。
光陽工業每年提撥營業額6~7%、平均超過新台幣10億元以上作為研究開發經費，全球561位研發人員，其中台灣有444位，重視研究開發的光陽工業每年取得130至160項專利，光陽工業與德國BMW、日本KAWASAKI及美國ARCTIC CAT等國際大廠代工合作長達10年時間，期間致力發展大排氣量的機車引擎，也學習其使用的檢測儀器和各項檢測重點，為躋身與歐美國際機車大廠同級的大排氣量機車引擎製造商打下根基。2011年BMW 公司公開表示，該廠牌450c.c.的越野車是委請台灣的光陽工業代工，讓KYMCO一舉打響名號，也帶動KYMCO於德國、義大利、法國和西班牙等國的銷售量。