The Kymco Factory
Murray gives us a first hand tour of the Kymco factory along with his diary from a recent trip to Taiwan
Murray Walters / Scooter Central
I must say that it is very nice being a part of the scooter industry. As
dealer principle of Sydney scooter store, Scooter Central, Im lucky
enough to get to ride the scooter of my choice 7 days a week, and from
time to time, there are some fabulous industry perks’ too. The
most recent opportunity was an invitation from Stuart McLean, CEO of
Kymco here in Australia, to travel with him to a week’s technical
training at the Kymco factory in Koashung in southern Taiwan.
Taiwan is quite an amazing place as it has been influenced over the
years by China, Japan and most recently the Western countries, and from
this foreign influence, it has grown a huge import export market. The
city of Koashung has been a large part of this economic growth, as it
is the largest shipping port in the southern hemisphere and it has a
rich history of foreign trade.
Now, this is the point where Kymco comes in. Kymco began in Kaoshung back in 1963 and has gone on to be one of the worlds leading scooter manufacturers. With
western markets in mind, Kymco are well known for their particularly
strict quality control standards. They are well aware that the product
they sell will often land in Europe, the USA or Australia and have a
manufacturers warranty attached to back up their product. For
example, here in Australia, Kymco scooters have a industry leading 4
year warranty, and it is a testament to the build quality of the
machines they sell.
On arrival in Koashung, we met our counterparts from France,
England, Argentina, Greece, Israel, Singapore and other parts of the
Kymco distribution chain. I had forgotten just how
popular scooters were around the world and how big the worldwide market
is. Our Kymco hosts were very welcoming and encouraged us to give their
Research and Development team as much real world feedback as possible
as the week went on. The format of the week was to revolve around the new fuel injected Downtown 300 and the even newer Myroad 700i. The good news is that both of these scooters are destined for Australian
shores, so keep an eye out for them, as they were both excellent scooters.
We spent the week stripping down both models, with particular
attention paid to the new fuel injection systems, and new engine
internals. Mid week, we went to the impressive Kymco test facility that was a one kilometre track. Here we were greeted with an array of machines to test ride and pass comment on. The
technicians from Kymco listened carefully to our input, while we
thrashed each model over bumps, ruts, the drag strip, skid pan areas
and the long straight.
My favourites were the Downtown and the super powerful Myroad 700i. The twin cylinder fuel injected 700cc machine in particular was fast and very responsive to rider inputs. My only concern was that the bellypan fairing touched down when you were really, really cranked over. It
would be very unlikely that your typical rider would ever be at serious
lean angles, but the Kymco technicians made careful notes and are
already modifying the fairing ready for the production run expected
late 2009, early 2010. This was testament to the Kymco
team insisting that the scooter was as close to perfect as possible
before it went into production.
The end of the week was highlighted with a factory visit. Now this was a major eye opener as we went into the first of five factory buildings. Basically you went into the factory to see masses of raw materials, like steel and aluminium. A 2 hour tour later and there is a scooter sitting in front of you, ready to go straight to a shop somewhere around the world. It was absolutely amazing. One
minute we would be looking at very expensive robots casting and honing
crankshafts, the next minute you were looking at the fitters putting
the product together on the engine assembly line.
The factory has over 2000 employees and can produce a new scooter every 28 seconds. In Taiwan alone, there are over 20 million people and more than 11 million scooters. This made for organised chaos on the roads as far as I could see, but the locals had no trouble getting where they needed to go.
By weeks end, I had a new respect for the professionalism of both
the Kymco scooter manufacturers, and also for the highly polished
Australian operation. The factory and the importers here in Australia meet regularly and hand pick the models for our market. Keep
and eye out for a series of exciting new scooter models coming from
Kymco in 2009 or look for more information on Kymcos new Australian
website www.kymco.com.au and the international site www.kymco.com