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Motorcycle Sales Down 40.8% Says MIC

Thursday, January 21, 2010
The Motorcycle Industry Council reports a 40.8% drop in year-over-year estimated sales since 2008. The MIC figures a total of 520,502 motorcycle sales for 2009, compared with 879,910 in 2008. ATV sales for the same period dropped 29.3%, from 454,098 to 321,181.
Motorcycle Industry Council
The latest MIC data confirms claims of a 40% drop in 2009 sales, the lowest sales totals of the decade.

MIC tabulates sales data by monthly reports from participating manufacturers: BMW, Can-Am, Ducati, Harley-Davidson/Buell, Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, the Piaggio Group, Victory, Suzuki, Triumph and Yamaha. The MIC later submits an estimate of total year sales, which accounts for non-reporting manufacturers. Last year that estimate was 1,087,000. Mid-year, the MIC releases a final sales total in its Statistical Annual, which for 2008 was 1.1 million.

If the 41% decline holds with the non-reporting manufacturers, total motorcycle sales for 2009 would be around 650,000. The final tally breaks a six-year streak of at least one million annual sales, and would actually be the lowest total since 546,000 units were sold in 1999.

The MIC breaks down the motorcycle market into four segments: On-Highway, Off-Highway, Dual and Scooter. Off-highway showed the least decline, down 28%. Dual and On-Highway each dropped 42%, with on-highway motorcycle sales, at 357,691, the largest segment of the market at 69%.

Scooters sales, which boomed in 2008 during all-time highs for gas prices, fell 59% from 2008 – the most precipitous segment drop. The loss of 45,297 scooter unit sales figures to climb in the final MIC reckoning, as 2008 saw a new record in total scooter sales at 220,000 units (which means the non-reporting scooter OEMs sold 143K units in 2008). If the 59% drop in scooter sales holds with non-reporting entities, that would be a loss of close to 130,000 units. The Scooter market for in 2008 boomed 41.5% compared to 2007, also according to MIC data.

  2009           2008           Change      %Change
DUAL  26,257  45,250  -18,993  -42% 
OFF-HWY  105,103  146,779  -41,676  -28% 
ON-HWY  357,691  611,133  -25,3442  -42% 
SCOOTER  31,451  76,748  -45,297  -59% 
TOTAL  520,502  879,910  -359,408  -41% 
ATV  321,181  454,098  -132,917  -29% 

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Viktor -The real problem...  May 17, 2010 03:09 PM
The real problem, besides the economy, is that American culture no longer supports motorcycles. They are deemed dangerous and the driving public does not respect motorcycles. Motorcycles are huge in Asia because they are cheap and reliable transport. In Europe, they are hated but respected. In America, Doctors, Lawyers and Insurance Companies are working to kill off motorcycles. Heck, you cannot even find decent off-road places to ride without getting chased by the cops. I for one, fully support a national movement to educate drivers about motorcycles. Texting and driving is not only killing drivers but it is killing motorcyclists faster. There needs to be a national awareness that motorcycles need to be respected more than cars and drivers need to be taught to be aware of two-wheeled vehicles. Also, I would like to see more licensing, education and requirements like they have over in Europe. Someone getting a first bike should be limited to 0 to 250 CC. Then after continuing education and a certain time period they can apply for a 250 to 500 CC license and so on and so forth. Not only would further licensing generate revenue for the localities but it would save hundreds of immature riders who give motorcycling a bad name. Think of the lives it would save and it would make everyone a better ride. Me personally, I am getting very tired (and scared) of riding down the road only to get cut-off by a SUV while the driver is on the phone not paying attention.
Eric Robinson -Unemployed Motorcycle Ind. Professional  February 2, 2010 08:42 AM
Financing, or the inability to get financing, to be more accurate, is a major component of this problem. As banks tighten lending policies, potential buyers either can't qualify, need too high of down payment to be acceptable, or get an interest rate too high to be practical, especially in an environment when so many Americans are worried about the future of their jobs. When the cost of acquisition becomes too high, a customer can't justify having a toy, when those dollars can be more wisely spent. So, too, the tightening of lender policies has a double impact on the deal, as many lenders are now refusing to finance bikes past a certain age, and/or certain brands. Faced with that reality, dealers can't offer much for the trade-ins, because they will have to wait for that cash buyer, to get it off their books, just as the would be buyer must do, before he can buy the new bike. This creates downward pressure on the price of ALL bikes because it forced down the value of all bikes on the market. Mfrs. and Dealers are caught between a rock and a hard place. Imported bikes and parts are made more expensive due to the collapse of the dollar. Dealers are forced to give away the bikes, to avoid flooring costs accumulating against an inventory that has such downward pressure on its value. With customers strapped for cash, and regulations against modifying bikes increasing every year, after sale income from customers has gone down, and riders are more likely to perform scheduled services at home, further slicing into the cash flow that dealers can expect from the sale of a bike. High fuel prices, ever shrinking public land access. Oil prices forced up the prices of tires and lubricants, the list goes on and on. The truth is, no matter what the people in our capitals say, nothing they have done has helped us, much of what they do injures us, and the contraction/collapse of our industry would mean a huge loss of economic activity, "jobs", and receipts for the very people who have caused much of this calamity.
Woodman -Dreambike  January 31, 2010 03:40 PM
My dream bike, Kawi Vulcan Voyager 1700 is on ebay at $4000 off right now. Only 50 miles away from my front door. Oh well, not this year. Gotta get a few more miles out of the Roadstar.
mcgtuire -sewer rat  January 26, 2010 11:57 AM
Yeah, I just picked up a 2002 milie R with 16000 miles all maintaince records and everything current, hardly a mark on the bike for $4,500.00. How do you beat that? Ive been riding it for two weeks and the bike is solid, I can't find a single thing wrong with it. New tires and chain too! I may never buy another new bike again. I had been lusting for one of these ever since Aprilia came out with them but I have always been put off by the price.
Bill H. -Ride Or Go Insane!  January 25, 2010 07:56 PM
Yeah, it's a buyer's market now for sure. I saw a brand new KLX 250S for $3800+ tax, but where would I put it? The garage and Florida room are already full! I don't expect this soft bike market to last. We still haven't addressed our national energy policy in any meaningful way, and the dollar's falling, so expect higher fuel prices in the future to bring the bike market back up.
MCGUIRE -sewer rat  January 25, 2010 02:25 AM
Its a buyers market now. The dealers are discounting new models and used bikes are a bargain hunters dream right now. Im gonna check out the auction at Daytona bike week this year and see whats available
OJ, New Zealand -Depreciation  January 24, 2010 03:29 PM
In our part of the world, depreciation must have to be considered a significant part of the new sales issue. Buy a top of the line BMW 1200GT new with everything added as I did 2.5 years back (including top box)and with 16K on the clock it has depreciated 48% (and that's on a sale initiated by the dealer who has a buyer in the wings). Little wonder new sales are down. Why would you change? Oh and by the way the replacement price for a new GT1300 has gone up over $4,000 over the equivalent 1200 during the same period.
joe -everyone wants a payday  January 23, 2010 05:57 PM
a few years ago you could not go into a showroom floor and think about talking a few hundred dollars off msrp!!! Now the dealers are allowed to knock off thousands!!! Bad economy or not does everyone see a problem or is it just me??? $$$$$(thousands)$$$$$$
MV Man -Kevin  January 23, 2010 12:58 PM
You didn't have to explain it again to the filthy one, you were clear the first time. He and others just feel you are wrong..that's all. Don't get all butt hurt dude....
Kevin -NorCalFilth  January 22, 2010 05:23 PM
Gee 40% sales drop and yet…yet WSBK has more factories involved than ever before. Maybe, It has to do with the economy AND the DMG management. I didn’t think I had to explain it to you the second time around because it was fairly clear in my previous post. AMA crowds were never enormous but they were bigger than what we had last season. In addition, tv ratings were better before last season.

So once again I’ll explain it more simpler now. Honda won’t go broke tossing the small amount of money it would take to run a single team in DMG but if Honda feels DMG is a complete waste of time and money, no matter how little or much it will cost, because of the poor viewer ship and the poor management at DMG they won’t bother. Honda has even said candidly in press releases that they feel DMG’s direction does not suit Honda’s goals and are aware of the negative sentiment their fans have towards DMG.

One of the smartest things a business can do when sales are down is to advertise and market their product more aggressively in order to spur much needed sales. Honda is having no trouble dumping money into other race series; many of which cost more to fund than AMA.

You also must have a short term memory because before this dismal 40% sales drop for 2009 Honda already pulled nearly 90% out of AMA and would have pulled 100% out but they had to finish out Hodgson’s contract. This decision was made well before the 2009 fiscal year even started. You may have also forgotten Kawasaki did not compete in superbike at all and instead stuck Hayden and Hacking in DSB just to finish their contracts out. Again this decision was made before 2009 started.

“Maybe you can start your own series and bring it to WSBK spec, oh wait you just want to spend other peoples money”! Maybe you should become an economist and help Obama fix this mess. And when did I ever say I want to spend other people’s money?
MV Man -Kevin  January 22, 2010 01:02 PM
You are correct about factories leaving for reasons other than the economy, but it's always about the economics. C'mon man..the Aprilia "Cube", that thing was a pile, just ask Edwards or Haga! If the "Cube" was competitive, Aprilia would have been happy to continue throwing money at the project, but.... Look, in your own words you say "the economy has the most influence on the decision to leave AMA", so I know you are a smart guy who "gets it". I'm not sure the big four ever got enough bang for their AMA advertising buck to make it anything beyond obligatory. We are all frustrated, but hang in there, this shit will pass. Although I don't feel we will return to quite the level we were at seven years ago, things will get better, much better!
SAMxrl -No news to me  January 22, 2010 12:03 PM
Hey, this is all no news to me. The adage "You want a motorcycle, but you NEED a car" reigns supreme. Scooters sales have always been driven by fuel costs. The other bike segments were squirming on thin ice for a while too. Most were over-inflated in price (especially Harley Davidson) and the Japanese manufacturers went and charged $500-700 more from 08-09. Yeah, that was a smart move.?? Houses have been overpriced, cars as well, and certainly motorcycles. It will be interesting to see how things balance out to more true pricing.
NorCalFilth -Kevin???  January 22, 2010 12:01 PM
Kevin... what a response....i dont even know where to begin. What part of the 40% sales drop don't you get? Viewer ship was poor before the DMG took over, have you ever been to a race weekend at a track other than Daytona or Laguna? Because the AMA wasn't drawing a crowd at any other venues. Case in point Fontana, i think i was one in maybe 5,000 when i was there a few years ago. THERE IS NO MONEY!!! Maybe you can start your own series and bring it to WSBK spec, oh wait you just want to spend other peoples money!
Kevin -MV Man  January 22, 2010 11:39 AM
I don’t think the comparison with MotoGP is a good one because Aprilia left GP but is back in WSBK instead and with a new bike. In other words factories don’t always leave racing series just because of the economy because if that were so Aprilia wouldn’t be racing in WSBK either. Kawasaki left MotoGP for different reasons and circumstances for which they left AMA. Certainly the economy has the most influence on the decisions to leave AMA racing but if the sport were a good investment like WSBK, AMA wouldn’t be loosing several factory teams they would be gaining several factory teams like WSBK has done. We see Moto GP having trouble filling 16 grid spots but look at WSBK. Several talented riders couldn’t find rides in AMA but found rides in BSB, WSBK and WSS.

If it were just an economic issue then these riders would not have found rides anywhere and WSBK would not have gained new factory teams. The factories get a direct return on their investment in WSBK or any production based race series-win on Sunday sell on Monday-not so much so in MotoGp. GP is good for promoting the brand name and image in a broad manner which is good if your production bikes are selling okay. If your production bike sales are down then resources need to be sent to that problem area immediately. Smaller companies like BMW and Aprilia know they won’t get the best bang for the buck in Moto Gp so they chose the WSBK route.

Now with the AMA same thing goes except not because the cost is too high but the interest is too low. Moto Gp has many viewers but it is sooooooo much $$$. AMA is not really expensive but the viewer ship is very poor; that combined with the fact DMG’s management stuck their finger in the factories eye socket is why AMA racing is dead.
MV Man -Kevin  January 22, 2010 10:33 AM
You probably think DMG was behind Kawasaki pulling the plug on Melandri and their Moto GP effort. For the record, people havn't been watching or attending races for years...in America. The U.S. is not Europe and does not support motorcycle racing in the same manner. That is what makes it a bad investment of sponser $$. If DMG hadn't stepped in when they did, I'm not too sure there would even be AMA roadracing in America. (Kind of like when AMF stepped in to keep the doors open at Harley.) Look, nobody is saying the series is perfect or even good..all I'm saying is that this current AMA/DMG series is the alternative to no roadracing at all. This is a necessary, "wagons in a circle" defense until the $$ gets right.
Kevin -MV Man  January 22, 2010 09:48 AM
It was DMG that drove them out. Both Kawasaki and Honda are still racing in other SBK and SS series just not DMG’s series and that’s taking into account that the DMG series is one of the least expensive series to race in because of the dumbed down bikes and short schedule. With nobody watching or attending races it is not a good investment for the factories.
Brad -Sad  January 22, 2010 08:59 AM
Sad to see this news. I view bikes as part of the solution to our trade deficit. If we all spent less on gas . . . .

Reuters reports today that Harley is bleeding red ink with a drop of more than 53% in Harley shipments as compared to the same time last year and a net loss for the quarter of $218 million. Ouch. I guess in hard times discretionary expenditures are the first to go. My bike is my primary mode of transportation. Therefore, I don't look at it as a discretionary expense. Guess that's not true for everyone.

As far as the politics of all of this, I would suggest that neither Republicans nor Democrats have been able to live within a budget; they all deficit spend. In fact, the last time we had a budgetary surplus was under Clinton, but that was only because of a yet-to-explode tech bubble. Time to fix the trade deficit, balance the budget, pay off national debt, . . . and get more people on two wheels.
christo -well, yeah...  January 22, 2010 05:04 AM
Sales dropped after the fuel gouging of 2008 quelled? No way!
MV Man -Business 101  January 21, 2010 07:17 PM
Hey Bart, next time Atlas is running down the MUSA halls screaming about how DMG drove Honda and Kawasaki away from AMA roadracing, shove this article in his face and force him to read it aloud. When he's done, give him some milk and cookies, I think he means well.
Maxx -$$$$$  January 21, 2010 06:02 PM
That's the unspoken problem
Perry -Yet  January 21, 2010 04:44 PM
Yet the prices remain sky high,go figure.