Rick’s Gentleman’s Express Blog

Motorcycle news and opinion

Archive for February, 2010

Motorcycle sales down

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The results are in and it seems that sales of Japanese-brand motorcycles are down in Canada after a pretty decent run over the last few years.

We may never know the real reasons, but there are lots of theories available:

  • older riders = shrinking market base
  • lots of competition for potential new, young riders’ money
  • all “eggs” in mega-cruiser basket
  • too many brands
  • high insurance rates
  • an increase in “safety consciousness”

All of these issues have been raised in the past when sales have dropped off. In the US during the Reagan era, import tariffs played a part. In today’s corporate welfare climate, it might be argued that an incentive program is needed — no sales taxes on fuel-efficient vehicles, lower vehicle permit rates for scooters and motorcycles, even a possible rebate to ditch your car for a scooter.

It’s tempting to look for someone or something to blame when a shortsighted marketing plan fails. Shareholders want answers and CEO’s want to keep their cushy jobs. GM and Chrysler were still churning out SUV’s that nobody wanted when gas prices hit $1.50/litre. Look where it got them.

What’s behind the “sudden” failure of the Canadian motorcycle market? Something that no one seems to want to discuss — including apologists in the mainstream motorcycle press — is the apparent abject failure of attempts (like the Honda “Powerhouse” initiative) to shut down old-style multi-line motorcycle dealers like Toronto’s Cycle World and McBride’s Cycle and Calgary’s Blackfoot Motorsports. Whether motorcycle manufacturers care to admit it, riders don’t like the idea of buying a bike at a car dealership. Any dreams the suits at Honda had of car buyers stumbling over a bike at a car dealer and buying it appear to have been of the pipe variety.

The question is, now that motorcycle manufacturers have successfully alienated all the family-run, enthusiast-supported new-bike dealers they used to have and their marketing wet-dream of capturing the fickle yuppie imagination with their suddenly unloved products has failed, how do they dig themselves out? Somehow I don’t see a bailout in the cards…

Written by admin

February 20th, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Posted in Uncategorized