MarketLine Blog

Motorcycles sales stuck in neutral

After a brief recovery in 2011, the global motorcycles market contracted again in 2012-13, with the European region showing the steepest decline. According to the Motorcycle Industry European Association (ACEM), the European market has now hit rock bottom and 2014 should see a slightly more positive sales performance. In addition to general weak economic conditions, motorcycle distributors blamed poor climate, especially the long lasting winter in 2013, for negatively impacting on sales.

In the UK, the market for motorcycles is taking longer to recover than the car market, as the majority of sales are to leisure customers and falling disposable income means they are upgrading their bikes far less regularly. The areas in which there has been growth tended to be from new customers looking for more economical ways to commute.

On the other hand, the motorcycle market in Russia has demonstrated significant growth, mostly due to an increase in the import of such vehicles. Of the total motorcycle population, 95% were imported motorcycles, and homemade motorcycles only accounted for 5%. Chinese bikes are the most popular in Russia and account for 70.7% of all motorcycle imports. Japanese motorcycles come second, taking up a further 27%.

The Asia-Pacific region grew only modestly in 2013; it is however expected to account for 80% of all new motorcycle sales, by volume, in the foreseeable future, with China, India and Indonesia as the top three markets respectively. While India has seen especially strong growth in the last few years, motorcycle sales growth in China has slowed down, primarily due to more consumers upgrading their motorcycles to cars. At the same time, the Indonesian motorcycle market is booming with an ownership ratio of one bike for every two persons.

In the US, after a few years of consecutive steep contractions in sales volumes, the motorcycles market showed signs of recovery in 2012-13. Motorcycling is an increasingly mainstream mode of transportation, as tire sales have increased over the past three years. Estimated vehicle miles travelled are also on the rise, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council.

Motorcycle owners in the West and East use their bikes for very different purposes. Riders in the West use their bikes more for leisure while riders in the East are more focused on personal mobility, going some way to explaining why the Asia-Pacific region is expected to dominate the global market for the foreseeable future

For more information, have a look at our Industry Reports on Motorcycles.

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