Honda Motor Co. just released its sales figures for motorcycles in 2010, and surprisingly the Japanese company has done very well during an otherwise dismal year for the motorcycle industry. The secret to Honda’s success? The Asian market. Eight out of ten motorcycles Honda produces, ends up in Asia…and this figure excludes motorcycles sold in Japan and China.
Honda sold 14.3 million motorcycles in what it calls Asian countries last year (17.7 million globally), a record for the company, and a figure that is 23% higher than the previous record, which was set last year (another horrible year for the motorcycle industry we might add). Compare that staggering quantity to the 1.3 million units sold in China (the largest single country for Honda sales), 261,000 units sold in Europe, and 210,000 in North America, and the true value of the growing Asian economy becomes apparent.
These sales figures tell an interesting story, beyond the fact that Honda seems to be doing just fine financially on a global level. It’s obvious the markets that show growth for Honda are the same markets that have exploding economies right now, South America, Southeast Asia, and China are all on a war path to become economic powerhouses, and appropriately are buying more motorcycles.
Reading between the lines on these figures though, it’s all but certain that small-displacement machines are where the real money is in motorcycling. In fact when you look at the markets that large-displacement bikes are traditionally sold in, i.e. North America, and to a less extent Europe, you see corresponding losses on sales compared to 2009. This is not a coincidence.
The only noticeable exception to that rule seems to be China, where we suspect the country’s own domestic market is pushing Honda out and filling in the gap for motorcycle sales growth (we’ve reached out to Honda for their take on it). The takeaway from this information is that small-displacement bikes are the moneymakers in this industry, and you should always diversify your portfolio.
*New Record – All Units are in Thousands