The Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) projects new motorcycle sales will drop in 2012. The trade organization reported in January that new motorcycle sales held steady for 2011, exhibiting a slight 0.3% gain compared to 2010. The MIC cites unemployment and stagnating incomes as a driving factor for the projected sales dip. It also predicts that ATV sales will drop as well, but be off-set by the rising UTV market. The MIC issues quarterly updates on motorcycle sales to the media, with more detailed access confidential to industry members. It will release sales data for the first quarter of 2012 on April 20th. – Bart Madson
The Motorcycle Industry Council forecasts modest declines in new motorcycle sales through 2012. That estimate comes from the MIC's new Business Advisory & Forecast, marking the first time that the industry association has projected future sales.
This MIC forecast, compiled in conjunction with the Institute for Trend Research, follows an initial estimate for 2011 sales showing some growth last year.
Collectively, the dozen leading brands included in the MIC's Retail Sales Report were up 0.3 percent in 2011, compared to the year before. Fuel-efficient models did especially well. Among these brands, scooter sales rose 11.8 percent and dual-purpose bike sales were up 14.2 percent. The MIC will announce first-quarter 2012 sales for these particular brands, which represent most of the market, on April 20.
"While our market stayed essentially flat last year, unemployment numbers and stagnant incomes are making consumers more cautious about large purchases," said MIC President Tim Buche. "Even with low interest rates making this a great time to buy for many people, overall economic uncertainty is leading us to predict we'll have fewer sales in 2012."
However, Buche said, the MIC forecast assumes the same amount of sales and marketing efforts on the part of manufacturers and distributors. They can influence and increase sales through production increases, through price changes, and things such as special promotions and captive financing programs.
The MIC Business Advisory & Forecast also projects that ATV sales will decline this year. But this trend is being offset by a market shift to recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs) that eclipsed 220,000 new unit sales in 2010, by some industry estimates. The MIC does not currently track ROV sales.
The forecast projects specific sales figures three years into the future, but this detail and long-range projection are only available to MIC members and are not for public distribution. Quarterly MIC news releases, with 2012 forecast updates, are scheduled for publication at the end of the months of April, July, and October.
While new bike sales remained virtually flat last year, there was positive news within other aspects of the industry. Spending on maintenance and repairs has been rising since April 2010, according to the business advisory, suggesting that the market for consumers taking care of bikes they’ve long owned, or improving used bikes they've recently purchased, could continue to improve.
Recent tire sales also reflect this trend, as well as data confirming that owners are putting more miles on their motorcycles. The MIC's Motorcycle Tire Sales Report shows that replacement tire purchases, among eight leading brands, rose 9.6 percent in 2011. Even off-highway tire sales increased by 11.7 percent last year, during the same time that sales of new off-highway motorcycles declined by more than 13 percent.
"We're seeing strong indications that riders are continuing to maintain their current motorcycles or upgrading ones they bought used, and we've recorded an increasing number of miles being ridden on American roads over the past decade," Buche said. "The interest in motorcycling is healthier than ever. That's good news for our industry over the long term and this bodes well for retailers."
The Motorcycle Industry Council exists to preserve, protect and promote motorcycling through government relations, communications and media relations, statistics and research, business advisories and forecasts, aftermarket programs, development of data communications standards, and activities surrounding technical and regulatory issues. As a not-for-profit, national industry association, the MIC seeks to support motorcyclists by representing manufacturers and distributors of motorcycles, scooters, motorcycle/ATV/ROV parts and accessories, and members of allied trades such as insurance, finance and investment companies, media companies and consultants.
The MIC is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., with a government relations office in metropolitan Washington, D.C. First called the MIC in 1970, the organization has been in operation since 1914. Visit the MIC at www.mic.org