2013 U.S. Motorcycle Sales Up – Scooters Down

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US Motorcycle Sales

The Motorcycle Industry Council has this week reported a small increase in U.S. motorcycle sales in 2013 with street motorcycles and adventure motorcycles showing the biggest growth over 2012.

The MIC is a non-profit national industry association, which has 75% of motorcycle manufacturers in the U.S. as part of its 300-strong membership, which also includes motorcycle dealers and parts manufacturers.

MIC’s quarterly and annual sales figures for motorcycle sales in the U.S. are compiled from data supplied by the following manufacturers: Aprilia, BMW, CanAm, Ducati, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Indian/Polaris, Kawasaki, KTM, Kymco, Moto Guzzi, Piaggio, Suzuki, Triumph, Vespa, Victory and Yamaha.

For 2013, MIC reported that there were 465,783 motorcycle sales in the U.S. That’s an increase of just 1.4 percent over the 2012 numbers.

The MIC’s 2013 sales figures are broken down as follows:

  • Adventure or dual-purpose motorcycles saw 32,979 bikes sold, up 7.8 percent (2,387 units) from 2012.
  • Off-highway motorcycle sales ended the year at 73,371 bikes sold, up 5.7 percent (3,976 units) from 2012.
  • Street motorcycle sales saw 324,691 sold, up 2 percent (6,485 units) from 2012
  • ATV sales were at 228,305 compared to 227,256 in 2012. An increase of 0.5%

The worst performer last year in the MIC sales report was the scooter sector. Scooter sales, for those brands monitored by MIC, dropped 15.5% in 2013 with a total of 34,742 sold. This was 6,363 less than were delivered to customers in 2012. Even though the scooter segment accounts for just 7.4% of the overall market, its decline was sufficient to keep the combined two-wheel market growth at just 1.4 percent.

On the upside, ATV figures saw a 7.3 percent increase in the month of December alone last year, but only a small 0.5 percent increase year on year. Effectively an additional 1,049 more ATVs were sold in 2013 than in 2012. However, the MIC does not include UTV and SxS sales in its reporting.
The overall MIC 2013 sales figures for motorcycles (including scooters) saw an overall slender increase of 1.4 percent year-on-year hampered by the downturn in the scooter market.

  • William Connor

    Adventure or dual purpose was 7.8%, off-highway was 5.7% and street was 2%. Meaning that your first statement should be changed from “The Motorcycle Industry Council has this week reported a small increase
    in U.S. motorcycle sales in 2013 with street motorcycles and adventure
    motorcycles showing the biggest growth over 2012.” to “The Motorcycle Industry Council has this week reported a small increase
    in U.S. motorcycle sales in 2013 with Off-Highway motorcycles and adventure
    motorcycles showing the biggest growth over 2012.”

    Overall positive news, considering several manufacturers had record years motorcycling has a little bit of a rosy outlook.

  • Justin McClintock

    With so many exciting new small displacement motorcycles available that still offer real performance, I’m not surprised about the scooters. A 300cc Vespa costs significantly more than any of the 500cc motorcycles Honda is rolling out. And a TU250X offers more style (IMO) than the Vespa anyway….and costs $2K less!

    Also, I doubt the MIC is monitoring some of those fly-by-night Chinese scooter dealers. And even when the quality is infinitely superior on any of the major brands, simply offering the same style of product as those guys can’t be helping.

    • Gonfern

      Agree. Vespas are a style point transportation, not fitting the need of the typical scooter buyer. Most of the scooters I see around my community (surprisingly quite a lot.) are Chinese nonames. They are cheap and easy transport and the DC metro area is crawling with them. Someone who has vespa money is likely to also consider any of the bikes mentioned and the super hot Grom.

  • FreeFrog

    More small displacement and “practical” motorcycles logically will draw some people who were on the fence about scooter vs. moto. All I can say is right f*ing on!

  • Nathan Haley

    I would love to access their more detailed data but the MIC stats are expensive!

    I expect the bigger, more expensive motorcycles (ADVs in particular) are procyclical (no pun intended) – people buy them when times are good. Scooters and other economical machines are likely countercyclical, which is why we see them in decline as the US continues to recover from recession.

    It’s a little weird to compare the quantities of scooters sold to the quantities of big ADV bikes sold. The //number// of bike sales hasn’t changed much but ADV/dual-sports are a lot more expensive than scooters and their margins are probably larger. Because of this I would expect to see the industry revenue and profit to be substantially larger in 2013 than they were in 2012 – by a factor of more than 1.4%. So that metric of growth might not be so useful.

  • Vincent T.

    Which brands are monitored by the MIC? I suspect that if the Chinese brands aren’t being monitored, they have had an increase in sales, which has hurt the sales of Honda, Vespa, etc., which are being monitored.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      No Chinese brand is currently a major player in the US.

      • Mark D

        Kymco, SYM, and the Republic of China (aka Taiwan) would disagree, but I think that’s a historical and political digression.

        • http://blog.duder.net Stephen Wuebker

          Genuine (Buddy and Stella) rebrand scooters from PGO for the Buddy and LML for the Stella. PGO is Taiwanese and LML is Indian. I would say that Genuine, Kymco, and Sym are swallowing would-be Vespa or Piaggio buyers because of price.

          Also, while PGO, Kymco, and Sym are Taiwanese and therefore technically Chinese, the difference in level of quality one gets from a scooter built in Taiwan versus one built in mainland China is staggering. I agree with Wes: No **MAINLAND** Chinese brand is currently a major player in the US. The Taiwanese brands being major players is another debate…

          • Mark D

            Agreed, the GF just bought a very nice Kymco scoot. She looked at Vespa 150ccs first, liked them, and was actually totally willing to pay the price until she saw that she could buy a Kymco plus all her gear, a topcase, and insurance for less that the Vespa. Its actually, arguably, a better scooter, too.

          • Piglet2010

            My mainland China built scooter has excellent build quality, finish, and has required nothing but routine maintenance for the first 7K miles.

            http://www.wuyang-honda.com:8901/english/index/

        • Piglet2010

          Uh, KYMCO is a member of MIC.

          • Mark D

            Reading comprehension; some days, I just don’t have it.

      • Vincent T.

        Yeah, that’s sort of my point. Individually I’m sure they aren’t doing a TON in the US, but cumulatively they are probably responsible for a good chunk of sales. I have a Chinese scooter and it’s awesome, and there seem to be more no-name scooter dealers around than motorcycle dealers, so they must be doing ok.

    • Tim Watson

      No Chinese brands as Wes says, but all the brands MIC represents are listed in the story. MIC claims its motorcycle manufacturer membership is around 90% of all brands.

  • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

    Scooter sales are 100% pegged to fuel price. Spike in fuel prices? Spike in scooter sales. Consistent prices? Sales slump.

    • JP

      Ah, that makes perfect sense.

    • Justin McClintock

      I’ve seen that too. There’s definitely some irony there though. I mean, it makes perfect sense if a person is trading in their car. But adding a scooter to the fleet to save on gas…without giving anything up? That $3000 the person spent on the scooter will buy a LOT of gas.

      • Piglet2010

        Zipping around on a little scooter is more than $3K worth of fun.

  • Jack Meoph

    Unfortunately, the prices of Vespas are still high (could buy a new Honda 500 for less than the price of the vespa I was looking at !!!yeesh!!!)…….it’s the only scooter I would be willing to upgrade to from the scooter I have right now (maybe the Honda PCX, but it would have to be a killer OTD price). But if I had the $$$$$$$, I’d throw down on the Vespa 946 is a heartbeat. Oh sweet lottery win, where for art thou?

    • Justin McClintock

      If I were in the market for a scooter, the Genuine Stella would be somewhat intriguing. It might be a POS for all I know, but the thought of a 150cc scooter with a manual transmission is at least somewhat appealing. Plus I dig the styling and the spare tire.

      • Jack Meoph

        Genuine scooters are re-badged and DOT certified PGO’s from Taiwan. I have a Genuine Buddy, and it’s been great. If you want to know more about Stella’s or Genuine scoots go to: http://www.modernbuddy.com/forum/forum14.html?sid=feef2ce2aa5f3232fd57fd09ef074199
        There’s a lot of info on them there. the good, the bad, and the weird. If I were interested in a Stella, I wouldn’t have any qualms about buying one, as long as the dealer was close and decent.

    • Piglet2010

      Looks like a rabbit to me. But why would someone want a scooter without a huge under-seat storage space?

  • John

    “The Motorcycle Industry Council has this week reported a small increase in U.S. motorcycle sales in 2013 with street motorcycles and adventure motorcycles showing the biggest growth over 2012.”

    I think you misspelled “off road” as “street” somehow.

  • ThinkingInImages

    I never saw scooters as an inexpensive motorcycle option/alternative – at least not the ones I’d consider owning. Some of them are pretty sophisticated when you think of it. Linked brakes, single sided swing arms and forks, automatic transmissions, a monocoque chassis that forms a semi-faired vehicle, and built in lockable storage. That sounds exotic – for a motorcycle (as we know them).

    Motorcycle/scooter category sales are on the increase overall, and that’s good.

  • WNCJohn

    To put this into perspective as we go into another “Summer of recovery”.

    Year / Total motorcycle sales in the U.S.
    2007 / 1,124,000
    2008 / 1,087,000 (the 6th year of 1 million plus sales)
    2009 / 520,502 a 40+% drop
    2010 / 439,678
    2011 / 440,899
    2012 / 452,386
    2013 / 465,783

    So the motorcycle market has only recovered about 6% since the bottom and is till down over 50% from the six years prior to 2008.
    (BTW, the recession officially ended June of 2009)