Correction - when the car market dipped - motorcycle demand fell and stayed down

15 Apr 2011 Marc Bland

First, I want to acknowledge the fact that my previous blog titled, "When the Car Market Dipped - Motorcycle Demand Soared and Remained High" was totally incorrect regarding the motorcycle trend. As a blogger with privileged access to the best automotive industry data available, I pride myself on staying objective and reporting the facts. To rectify this situation, I have re-written the blog correctly as follows: Between 2007 and 2009 when the car and light truck market plummeted, the motorcycle industry was hit with an upper-cut punch and knocked out cold. While car and light truck sales dropped nearly 34% during this period, the "street legal" motorcycle industry (cruisers, touring bikes, crotch rockets or high performance sport bikes, customized street bikes and racers) dropped approximately 48%.

Automotive and Motorcycle Trend

On a more positive note, the period between 2009 and 2010 signaled a comeback for the car and light truck market on a number of fronts including: 8% market growth for personal registrations (not including fleet and commercial), numerous profitable OEMs, an abundance of new eye-catching vehicles and more recently, the announcement of bonus payments to both blue and white collar employees. What 2010 also demonstrated is the fact that a positive gain for automotive doesn't imply an improvement in the motorcycle markets. Following the "eye-popping" 48% decline between 2007 and 2009, the "street legal" motorcycle market experienced an additional 18% drop between 2009 and 2010. As I was writing this corrected blog and thinking about the two consecutive drops the motorcycle market has experienced, for some reason Cedar Point's "Top Thrill Dragster" kept coming to mind. Maybe it's the similarities of the fast take-off and a large yell of "AHHHHHHH" only to be followed by a huge drop and another "AHHHHHHHHHH!"

TableSo, which motorcycle brands with greater than 1,000 units sold in 2009 were negatively impacted the most in 2010? Based on the table below, the following four brands: Buell, Suzuki, Yamaha and Aprilia experienced 2009 to 2010 average volume decreases of 42% with Buel volumes dropping 64%.

The two positives I could find for brands with more than 1,000 units sold in 2009 were as follows:

--Victory was the only brand to sell more units in 2010 than 2009 - up 18% Yr. over Yr.
-- Harley-Davidson is only 1.2 PPT away from claiming "every other new bike sold in the U.S. is a Harley"

I want to apologize to my readers for the initial incorrect information provided and any confusion this may have caused in the market. The facts are provided above. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments on the blog.

Posted by Marc Bland, Product Strategist and Multicultural Marketing Lead, Polk (04.15.2011)


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