RANTOUL, Ill. (6/9/08)--With prices for gasoline in the U.S. skyrocketing, a number of credit unions are looking to step up their loan promotions for fuel-efficient motorcycles and scooters. Mike Daugherty, president, Community Plus FCU, Rantoul, Ill., practices what he preaches by riding his scooter to work every day. “I bought it last year, and it is not often that you do get to do something that is practical, but fun as well,” he told News Now. The $12.1 million asset credit union has been offering loans on motorcycles and scooters “forever,” he said. “Last summer, we had a hot-pink scooter in our lobby for a promotion, but it didn’t result in a lot of loans though,” Daugherty said. So far this year, Community Plus has not seen any substantial increase in motorcycle or scooter loans. Daugherty attributes this to the fact that many people in town drive to a larger metropolitan area--Champaign-Urbana, about 15 miles away--for work, which is more practical for a car than a motorcycle or scooter. However, Community Plus is hoping to increase loans in this area. “We are planning a promotion but we haven’t work out the details yet,” Daugherty explained. “We opened a branch by a motorcycle store that sells mostly Harleys. And although we don’t do indirect [loans], we will work with the store if it sends people over. We’ll offer loans to them and do the paperwork.” Although ultra-high gas prices have negatively impacted the big three U.S. automakers, many small businesses and consumers who drive a car, they have been a plus for scooter sales (LoHud.com May 18). In the first quarter of 2008, brand name scooters, including Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha and Vespa, went up 24%, according to Mike Mount, Motorcycle Industry Council trade group spokesman. Fuel prices definitely seem to be the driving force behind the ongoing upward-spiraling scooter sales, based on anecdotal evidence, Mount added. The Credit Union National Association’s CU360 online research and advice portal for credit union executives has an article on credit unions offering scooter loans, as rising gas prices boost sales of smaller vehicles. Two credit unions are mentioned for their loan promotions in this area. The article also identifies the pros and cons of scooter loans. For more information, use the link.