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Motorcycle Sales Dip 14.7% in 2013 Q1

Wednesday, May 1, 2013
The Motorcycle Industry Council reports first quarter motorcycle sales have dipped 14.7% compared with 2012. On-highway motorcycles sales dipped 16.2%, with scooters suffering in particular – down 34.6%. The bright spot on the 2013 Q1 report are dirt bikes, with Off-Highway units holding almost dead even (0.4%) with 2012 totals.

Motorcycle Industry Council
News of a market downturn was expected after first quarter financials from Harley-Davidson and Polaris Industries were made public in late April. The American brands reported double-digit drops for the industry as a whole, with Polaris down 3% in Q1 sales and Harley-Davidson claiming a 12.7% drop in sales for its domestic market.

Explanation for the Q1 downturn has been blamed, in part, on the weather. H-D and Polaris Q1 financial reports both cite last year’s unseasonably warm weather in Q1 as a factor in the disappointing results. The rational is warmer weather fueled sales earlier in the season, and 2012 Q1 totals were up 6.7% from 2011 – before falling off the pace to register just 2.8% year-over-year increase at the end of Q2. (Further support for the weather factor is the recent report from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, which cited the extended riding season as a main causation for the increase in motorcycle fatalities for 2012.)

On-Highway motorcycle sales, which encompass most street-legal bikes, including cruisers, totaled 64,706 units for the quarter. This On-Highway segment is by far the largest MIC designation, and its 16.2% decrease represents a 12,482 unit loss.

Scooter sales, which traditionally show the most fluctuation year-over-year, continue to be erratic. This year only 4771 scooters were sold in Q1, compared to the 7300 total of last year – a 34.6% drop. The MIC data only reflects scooter sales from MIC members, excluding most Chinese-built scooters.

The rising popularity of the dual segment, which includes many Adventure-Touring models as well as more traditional street-legal dual-sports, took a hit as well. Year-over-year sales were down 1115 units, a 14.9% drop.

The Off-Highway market remained steady at 17,548 units sold – up 76 units from 2012. The Off-Highway market’s reversal contrasts the trend of recent years, which saw dirt bike sales continue to decline while the remaining on-highway market stabilized. Last year marked the first positive annual sales growth in the Off-Highway segment in years – up a modest 2.1%.

Not all news was good for the OHV market, however, as ATV sales struggled – down 10.4% for the quarter. The MIC does not track sales for the UTV/Side-by-Side market, however, at least one source cites a decline in the segment – the popularity of which has soared in recent years. The Polaris Q1 report claims ORV (its designation for UTV/Side-by-Sides) industry sales were down in the single digits – also stating that ATV industry sales suffered a double digit decline now confirmed by the MIC data.

Total motorcycle sales for the quarter was at 93,375 units, down from 109,425 last year. If the trend continues, sales will struggle to keep above the annual 400,000 unit threshold which the market has held following the 2008 recession.
MIC sales data is compiled by reports from its member brands: BMW, Can-Am, Ducati, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, the Piaggio Group, Victory, Suzuki, Triumph and Yamaha.

  2013           2012           Change      %Change
DUAL  6350 7465 -1115 -14.9%
OFF-HWY  17,548 17,472 76 0.4%
ON-HWY  64,706 77,188 -12,482 -16.2%
SCOOTER  4771 7300 -2529 -34.6%
TOTAL  93,375 109,425 -16,050 -14.7%
ATV  44,875 50,107 -5232 -10.4%

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Joeyblitz   September 4, 2013 06:12 PM
I forgot to mention the Tsunami in Japan ,also didn't help things.
Joeyblitz   September 4, 2013 06:09 PM
As a former dealer ,it is my opinion,that Motorcycling,peaked around 2005.At least in the USA.I have been an avid rider since 1974,and I can't remember a time when there were more bikes everywhere! I agree that this devastating ,crippled ,non-existent middle class has a lot to do with it. Also the fact that a 600 now costs what a 1000 cost in 2005-2006 ,but people are making much less money. I mean ,if you are a typical family man,with 2-3 kids, how can you afford to pay $15-20,000 for a new 1000 ? I currently own a 2005 ZX6R ,and I don't ride as much as I used to,as most of my Friends sold their bikes,moved ,got married,wrecked them ,etc. I used to see bikes everywhere,now ,very infrequently.I noticed that around 2008,used bikes were selling for absolutely insanely low prices on CL. Now they have come up a lot. But still much cheaper than buying new.Also ,I could not even imagine,the interest rate they would charge to finance a new bike now! The only way things will get better ,is if this Country turns around completely ,and overthrows our criminal mafia Govt.These are dark times for riders.
throttlenut   May 14, 2013 01:06 AM
Regardless of what we see going on Wall-Street everyday when we turn on the stock market, this country is not doing as well as people may think. I have owned many new and used bikes, possibly more than I could account for. I have watch my wages slide over the past 8-10 years but was able use the motorcycle industry at times to supplement my income. Today's bike are way too expensive as many commodities have become. The prices of used bikes seem be going through the roof at least in this area. Don't get me wrong the deals are there but you really have to work to find them. The parts, repairs and apparel prices are also a hefty burden on the consumer. Tires alone are extremely costly and wear much quicker than car tires. Go ahead and take a loan on any bike with an "R" in the name (i.e. GRXR, CBR, ZXR, YZF R6, R1...ect), and see how much your insurance will cost you for the year. At one point I was paying over 2K a year just to insure my sport bike because it was considered a race model due to the "R" in the name. How many tank of fuel is that? Now I have to ensure a car and a bike? I think it is really hard to find the value in owning a motorcycle, this is why they are marketed as a recreational vehicle. Now let's look at the cost of living, I bought to new bikes right out of high school in a couple year period but was making about %50 more including my hourly wage and benefit package. I since decided to go to school and took out 40K in student loans that have had little to no impact on my dismal wage. In fact I work with people with GED's and High school diplomas making more than me. Now I have a home loan and a $325.00/month student loan to pay. If I didn't use this industry to supplement my income I would be on the sidelines as I would not be able to afford a bike.
Piglet2010   May 3, 2013 07:28 PM
The US market is becoming an afterthought - the real money and future is SE Asia. If Honda did not sell a single motorcycle this year in the US, it would hardly be a blip on the year-end balance sheet (Honda sold 284,791 Civics in the US in 2012, which is more than worldwide H-D sales). And as for my car, it benefits from a trickle charger and fuel stabilizer. :)
woodco100   May 3, 2013 07:15 PM
More socialist dribble from Piglet. Piggy, the lifestyle bikes are selling. Ducati and BMW are through the roof. HDs profits are up, which means the dealers are holding their price and all the accessories (read lifestyle crap) is selling. Triumph is doing well also. What is not selling, all the generic J*p crap no one wants that is the same year after year. I ride a 1999 Venture. I would buy a new one tomorrow but it is the same exact bikes 14 years later! Americans buy the bikes they want, not the bikes the government tells them they need.
sloppy   May 3, 2013 04:13 AM
Piglet, did you actually read the article? Scooters took the biggest hit. They certainly don't promote "lifestyle". I don't ride a Harley nor do I want one. I actually ride an FZ1 and love it but your hatred for H-D is too biased to actually think with an open mind. H-D took a lesser hit the industry average. The reason for the drop is that motorcycles are not a main source of transportation period end of story. I ride over 10k miles a year and still put over twice as many miles on my car. I have to have my car. Indian MC's biggest rival @ 1914 wasn't HD it was Ford. The economy sucks, there is less discretionary income.
Piglet2010   May 2, 2013 06:11 PM
Looks like the manufacturers have shot themselves in the foot by promoting motorcycles as "lifestyle" accessories, rather than transportation.
RaptorFA   May 2, 2013 07:48 AM
I'm really not surprised to hear this. Unlike myself and some others, Motorcycles are not a person's main source of transportation and the econominc outlook is looking pretty dismal. This means that people just do not have the disposable income to buy a bike or Recreational vehicle. Especially the prices that HD and for the most part Victory are laying down for their bikes. Motus, the bike I really want, which was due to start shipping this Summer, is STARTING at $30K - ridiculous. People just can't afford to pay that in this climate. If this administration continues to fail, which unfortunately I think it will, look for this trend to continue, at least in North America. Make no mistake, I would LOVE to be wrong, but things just do not look too promising at the moment.
dbezerkeley   May 1, 2013 02:10 PM
Not sure how much stock you can put in the scooter numbers without counting Chinese brands.