Dual-sports, scooters shun recession, sales up

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vespa_boy_girl.jpgSales of scooters and dual-sports were up 41.5 and 22.8 percent in 2008 compared with 2007, reports the Motorcycle Industry Council. In the same time, the overall motorcycle industry reported a sales downturn of 7.2 percent, while US car and light truck sales were down 18 percent. These numbers illustrate a general movement towards utilitarian motorcycles and scooters being used as primary transportation and away from large capacity machines purchased purely for recreation.
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While we still have a long way to go before the majority of
motorcyclists and especially the population at large accept motorcycles
as viable, green, cost-effective, congestion busting transportation,
these sales numbers do indicate that US consumers could eventually be
browbeaten in that direction.

“Through the first nine months of that study, with the final quarter
results still to be factored in, commuting and errands moved up to
second place among reasons for riding,” says the MIC. “Five years earlier, in the 2003 survey, commuting and errands
ranked in third place, behind touring.”

Further analyzing the numbers, we can see that on-highway motorcycle
sales slipped just 5.6 percent last year, while off-highway machines
were down 30 percent.

High gas prices heavily influenced sales during the first nine months
of the year, but when they eventually came down in response to the
collapse of the economy in September and October, bike sales didn’t
come to a near-complete stop as auto sales did.

“Casual riding and riding for pleasure are still the top reasons for
Americans to go motorcycling,” MIC President Tim Buche explained. “But
more people are seeing motorcycles as green transportation that can
help reduce traffic congestion and make parking easier. Even larger
motorcycles are still affordable, can deliver twice the fuel economy of
many cars, and all of these bikes serve up weekend adventure and
socializing as well.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens to bike sales during 2009,
when both gas prices and the economy are expected to be down.

Update: The MIC Retail Sales Report compiles U.S. sales information every month from 12 leading motorcycle distributors: BMW, Can-Am, Ducati, Harley-Davidson/Buell, Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, the Piaggio Group, Victory, Suzuki, Triumph and Yamaha. It provides an indicator of market trends. The MIC is working to release an initial estimate of overall motorcycle sales in mid-February and a final estimate by midyear. Both of these estimates will factor in all of the brands sold in the U.S. It’s expected that scooter and small motorcycle sales could be even higher when the final numbers are tallied. We’ll keep you updated.

  • http://setthemfree.tumblr.com Sasha Pave

    New bike sales might slow a bit, but I think the smart dealers are going to capitalize on the used market.

    I think this will have as much to do with ever increasing new bike prices (09 vmax is $18k! )as it does the recession.

  • http://www.metroscooter.com Seth Hershey

    I help to run Metro Scooter in Cincinnati and saw this trend in real time last summer. My hopes are that the major manufacturers will start taking America more seriously and import more practical motorbikes, even though that will create more competition for me. I must say I’ve enjoyed being the best choice in small bikes.

  • nick

    Great posts today. Keep up the good work!

  • Jonesy

    Ya have you looked at retail on the New 600 and 1000 class sport bikes, all starting over $10,000 new… for a 600 cc sportbike…
    My dealership has been heavy in the used for years but it will become the primary market for sure now.
    we stock over 1000 used bikes Cruiser sport etc… metric and american… occasionally Italian never ;)

  • Jonesy

    Seth, You can see the Metric imports paying close attention this year to the Scooter/Small dual purpose market, Tons of yamaha scooters including the return of the Zuma and everyone making a 250 supermoto/enduro this year, and suzukis gladius (gay as it may be) is fitting in that niche too

  • modelasian

    Yamaha could lay the beat down on the fugly gladius if they brought back the FZR400 engine in a stolen Bandit frame. 250 Ninja who?

  • caferawker

    I’d love to know how much of that increase in the market was the Chinese scoots vs. Japanese.

  • caferawker

    Haha I see that the figures don’t include the Chinese makers. My bad.

  • http://www.xtrm.com/roeboedog Jeremy Robbins

    This is great. I am sure that gas prices had a lot to do with people re thinking their use of all that gas to drive around a huge SUV. Moto super green and could save the planet if we all rode on two wheels instead of four.

  • http://blog.yamahagenuineparts.com/search/label/TMAX Eilish

    Availability of OEM accessories are important to scooter sales. For the Yamaha TMAX we see a lot of sales in things like passenger backrests and a DC outlet plug for rechargeables – great for commuters. Also, versatile luggage options that are permanent and lockable like the rear hardcase as well as inexpensive options like the removable console “backpack” looking bag. Riders need to customize their bike for their own riding purposes. We notice that scooters do appeal to green advocates and introduce a new segment of the population to the motorcycling community.

  • http://www.rnrfabrication.com/wordpress Ronin Cycle

    Anytime the economy takes a dump used sales and economy motorcycles and cars go up. It is a natural response to tighening the perverbial belt. Along with this we will also an increase in business for the repair shops. Because the old saying is alway true, you get what you pay for. The cheaper the bike the more repair work you will eventually need.