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Increased demand in the motorcycle industry. World sales statistics 2020


The global motorcycle industry has changed in the era of Covid-19: demand has not only increased, but also the most popular classes of equipment have changed. Moreover, a steady demand for motorcycles is predicted for the next decade.

Sales results for 2020 showed a 14 percent decline from the previous year. In total, 9 million less units of motor vehicles were sold in 2020 than in 2019, but the main drop in sales occurred in four countries, which are quickly catching up.

Over the past decade, the motorcycle industry has been rapidly changing under the influence of many factors affecting it. In general, the economic development of developing countries has led to the development of demand for means of individual mobility, and motor vehicles are the best option for inexpensive, convenient and compact means of transportation. The global motorcycle market grew, spurred by the development of a number of “New” regional markets – India, China, the Philippines, Pakistan, Mexico and some smaller countries in Central and South America, as well as Southeast Asia.

The established markets of the richest countries in the world – North America, Europe, Japan, Korea, Australia – showed a slight decline in sales, which is already perceived as the norm against the background of a significant drop compared to 20 years earlier. Here, motorcycles are in demand as urban transport or an option for outdoor activities, as well as luxury goods. Unlike developing regions, there is a colossal aftermarket here, because of which sales of inexpensive utility bikes are not very large, but the premium segment is selling well.

Safety and eco standards

The motorcycle industry as a whole is also influenced by two global trends: new safety regulations and new environmental standards. At the same time, emerging markets are most affected by the tightening of regulatory requirements: inexpensive motor vehicles are mainly sold here, and stricter standards also imply higher production costs. The rise in prices for updated models hit sales in Indonesia in 2014, and then in 2018 in India and several other countries.

The new rules have also changed the world’s largest market, China: in 2015, the Chinese government outlined a transition from internal combustion engines to electric traction, and in many large cities, entry on gasoline motorcycles into the city center was prohibited. And in 2018, new economic norms began to influence the market additionally.

The motorcycle industry in the era of COVID-19

In the new realities created by the spread of the virus, the motorcycle industry experienced a short-term failure, mainly in the first half of 2020, when the widespread lockdown affected the production and supply of motorcycles. However, in the longer term, there are more pros than cons for the motorcycle industry:

  • High demand for personal mobility aids
  • The need for sustainable transport

The tightening of environmental regulations has led many people around the world to face a question: refuse to travel by private transport, buy a new car or buy a new motorcycle. From the news, we only know about the tip of the iceberg – the ban on the sale of new equipment that does not meet the requirements of current eco-standards, but in fact the question is much deeper. For owners of old motorcycles and cars, the problem arose of the impossibility of their operation in big cities: fines for entering a clean area on an old smoky car or moto are automatically issued by cameras, and their dimensions are such that they come the first time. The ecological class is tied in the database to the license plate, however, it can be changed, for example, by installing gas equipment.

In general, in these realities, many choose new inexpensive motorcycles for everyday city driving. As a result, since the second half of 2020, the global motorcycle industry has shown significant sales growth in several countries with excellent forecasts for the coming years. Worldwide sales in 2020 were 56.5 million units of motor vehicles, down 14% from the previous year. Due to covid restrictions, the industry lost more than 9 million in sales: in India, the loss was 5 million, in Indonesia – 2.9 million, in the Philippines – 0.7 million, and in Vietnam – 0.5 million. In these countries, the motorcycle industry is critical, and significant growth is projected for 2021-2022, while the rest of the world will continue to trend positively, resulting in significant annual growth.

The inevitable onset of the era of electric transport was marked by the adoption of new rules, benefits and subsidies for its development, in particular for two-wheeled vehicles. China is ahead of the rest of the world here, with more than half of new motorcycles sold here are electric, and this figure does not yet include e-bikes. In the rest of the world, the segment of electric cycles is still purely symbolic, with some exceptions, for example, in Taiwan.

Following the example of China, it is easy to judge what awaits the rest of the markets. Moreover, Chinese manufacturers have already worked out technologies in the domestic market and are ready to seriously enter the international market. In light of this, it is not surprising that, for example, the Yadea company in 2020 took the second place in the world in terms of production, while producing exclusively electric vehicles.

What’s ahead?

Today, manufacturers, both creating new production facilities and launching factories after a covid lockdown, face the following questions:

  • What to produce?
  • Where to deliver?
  • How much?
  • How to distribute limited-edition products?
  • How to maintain dealer networks with limited financial resources?
  • Will the electric vehicle segment grow or collapse?
  • Does it make sense to announce the 2021 models or go straight to 2022?
  • What will happen to the eco-norms from January 2022?
  • What challenges will motorcycle manufacturers face in 2021 and beyond?
  • When will demand return to 2019 levels?
  • Will the structure and dynamics of the motorcycle industry change forever as a result of the pandemic?

The answers to these questions will help you decide on a strategy to enter or return to the market. And only time will tell whether this strategy will be effective.

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