The FINANCIAL -- Despite the popular perception that roads in Georgia are not safe for
moped drivers the number of such vehicles imported into Georgia in 2011
increased four times compared to 2010.
This is according to the latest data provided by GeoStat. In 2011 the number of imported scooters amounted to 599 units, while in the previous year the figure was only 146. Saving fuel costs, avoiding traffic congestion and lack of need for a driving license are the main reasons why many Georgians have started switching to mopeds as their vehicle of choice.
Bacho Jaiani, 33, is the founder of Motoclub. The company imports mopeds from Japan. Last year the company sold 200 units. This year the expected figure is 300. The average price for mopeds varies from 500 USD to 1,000 USD.
Jaiani, a Georgian citizen, lived in St. Petersburg for twenty years. He left Russia following the August 2008 Russo-Georgian war. “I always tried to start a business that would support the development of civilization. I am from Batumi and thought that driving scooters would be more appropriate for a seaside city, so that’s why we started working in Adjara. Increased demand for our product has since encouraged us to open a branch in Tbilisi ,” Jaiani told The FINANCIAL.
Jaiani started his moped business with a sum of 50,000 USD. He saved up the amount during the time he spent working in St. Petersburg. It was in Russia that he started an innovative packaging service project with his schoolmates. “I always observe European tendencies that are not yet widespread in my country and then try to replicate them. By both of my start-up projects I tried to implement innovation. Doing business in Georgia is good as the competition does not exist,” he said.
“I witnessed such business innovations firsthand in Russia and only after that in Georgia. The popularity of scooters in St. Petersburg was just starting when I was leaving,” Jaiani noted.
According to Jaiani, distribution companies have started actively going for scooters. “We have also added moped parts to the selection available at our offices,” he said.
The Department of Yamaha in Tbilisi had the highest volume of sales since 2008 in 2011. From April to September we sold twenty four mopeds,” said Maiko Khujadze, Manager at Yamaha Department in Tbilisi .
Yamaha scooters use three litres of fuel per one hundred kilometres. “Tbilisi has a warm climate allowing citizens to drive scooters for around six months of the year,” said Khujadze.
Owners are free from registering their scooter at the police department. Mopeds that drive up to 60 km per hour have no registration number and owners are not required to have a driver’s license.
The prices of scooters at Yamaha start from 2,000 USD. “There are some Chinese mopeds that are cheap but of low quality that are not recommended. If you get in to an accident then there is big risk to your safety as well,” said Khujadze.
George, 30, has owned a Scorpio scooter for a year. He said that mopeds are really efficient as they do not require one to have a driver’s license. “You can avoid traffic jams and save on fuel expenses. I spend approximately two litres per every hundred kilometres”. This means 3 USD per 100 km, while off-road vehicle owners are paying around 15 USD per 100 km.
Increased demand for scooters has been reflected in the sales statements on the online portal myauto.ge.
Moped sales statements increased by fifty percent in the first quarter of 2012 compared with the same period of the previous year. Five to seven new statements regarding scooters are added to our website daily,” said Vladimir Gelashvili, Manager at myauto.ge.
According to a study of the World Health Organization (2009), Georgia leads the South Caucasus in reported road traffic accidents. Tbilisi Municipality is currently considering the idea of building bike lanes, which should contribute to both environment protection and road safety.