Chinese Scooter Manufacturers

It's very hard to say how many Chinese scooter manufacturers there are in China. There are probably hundreds of small factories turning out very similar models based on very similar designs. From what I understand, since China is a communist country, anyone can use the same design with government authorization, so there are no patents to infringe on. What gets listed as the "manufacturer" if the scooter is shipped to the US may or may not directly relate to the factory in which the scooter was built.

In order to be able to register a scooter in NJ (and presumably in other states), the manufacturer must be approved, meaning it has been certified as making a product which conforms to US safety and emission standards. All manufacturers are allocated a WMI code (World Manufacturer Index code), which is used as the first three characters of the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). All chinese scooter manufacturers have a WMI code that starts with the letter "L". Taiwanese scooter manufacturer's codes start with a two letter sequence from "RF" to "RK". Codes that start with a "4" or a "5" should be US manufacturers.

Here's a list of the Chinese scooter manufacturers approved by the NJ DMV on the bases of the WMI code (first three characters of the VIN). I'm sure it's not complete and I don't see fairly well known "brands" such as "Tank" or "Lifan" on there, so I'm not sure how they handle those. Perhaps they are just "brands", not actually the manufacturers. I don't see Qlink either, but QLINK is a U.S. importer for CF MOTO (and I don't know who actually manufactures their products either!). However even in this approved list, you can see that there are a LOT of chinese scooter manufacturers, most of whom you will never have heard of. What names they actually put on the scooters I don't know. The scooter I bought was sold to me as a Roketa, but nowhere on the scooter does the name "Roketa" appear, and the WMI code in the VIN indicates it was made by Jmstar, as does the manufacturer's information plate on the scooter itself. Even stranger is the fact that on this list, "Roketa" is listed as a US manufacturer based on the WMI code. So much for the DMV...

You can probably see from all this that the whole Chinese Scooter business is something of a mess. You really can't tell who made what, and so it's very hard to tell if a particular scooter sold under a particular name by a particular importer is going to be better or worse than another one. From what I can gather, for example, Tank, Roketa and Peace scooters are often all built in the same plant, they may have essentially identical models with no more than very minor styling differences - or even no difference at all. Buying a Chinese Scooter is something of a gamble. It wouldn't be so bad if there were actual reputable dealers who had a good knowledge of the product they sell, but such dealers seem to be few and far between.

This should not put you off buying a Chinese Scooter (I did!), but you should be aware of what you are getting into. It's not like buying a Honda. That's why a Chinese Scooter is 1/4 to 1/3 of the price of a Honda.

Chinese Scooter Manufacturers

LAN Changzhou Yamasaki Motorcycle Co., LTD.
LAE China Qingqi Group, Inc.
LHJ Chongqing Astronautical Bashan Motorcycle Manufacture Co., LTD.
LSR Chongquing Hi-Bird Motorcycle Industry Co., LTD.
LLC Chongqing Kinlon S & T Group Co., Ltd.
LZS Chongqing Zongshen Group
LCE Chunfeng Holding Group Co., LTD. - CFMOTO - Model Year 2003 and newer
RF4 Chyong Horng Enterprise Co., LTD.
L5X Cixi Konced Motorcycle Co., LTD.
LB2 Geely
LAA Jialing
LL8 Jiangsu Linhai Power Machinery Group - Linhai - Model Year 2006 or newer
RFB Kymco
LAW Power Sports Factory - Agent For - Qianjiang - Model Year 2003 and Newer
L4Y Qingqi Group Ningbo Rhon
5RY Roketa * [This is odd because 5RY should indicate a US manufacturer]
RFG Sanyang Industry Co. LTD.
LJ4 Shanghai Jmstar Motorcycle Co.
L8Y Shanghai Shenke Motorcycle Co., LTD
RFB STR Motorsports, Inc. dba Kymco USA
LFG Taizhou Chuanl Motorcycle Manufacturing Co., LTD.
LYD Taizhou City Kaitong Motorcycle
L5Y Taizhou Zhongneng Import and Export Co., LTD.
LFE Wuxi Futong Motorcycles Co LTD
L1E Zhejiang Lingyun Motorcycle Co., LTD.
L8X Zhejiang Summit Huawin Motorcycle Co., LTD.
LFF Zhejiang Taizhou Wangye Power Co., LTD.
L4S Zhejiang Xingyue Vehicle Co., LTD.
* - A grey box indicates a manufacturer in Taiwan
** - WMI codes as listed by the New Jersey DMV