Sometimes when reading the posts made on other motorcycle sites, or the comments by readers across the web, I don’t think there is a full grasp as to how bad the recession was for the motorcycle industry. Granted company’s like Ducati, BMW, and Victory have shown remarkable growth in a down period, but their success, though due in-part to the failures of Harley-Davidson and the Japanese manufacturers, is limited on its bearing to the industry as a whole. This because, quite frankly, these companies comprise only a small portion of the industry’s sales, units, and revenue.
The fact that Harley-Davidson was so close to the brink that they dumped everything outside of its core business is but one sign that motorcycling was in trouble. Another sign would be that Suzuki reportedly didn’t import any new units for the 2010 model years, instead letting local inventories in the US handle the dwindling demand for the company’s motorcycles. The fact that the motorcycle industry as whole almost folded-up on itself like a tin can without anyone making a real fuss about it is perhaps a great signal as to how far various stakeholders heads are buried in the sand. So for our last attempt to put things into perspective, try this one on for size:
For the first time in nearly three years, Suzuki’s motorcycle division has posted a profit…or, the last time Suzuki made money selling motorcycles was Q2 2008 (the same timeframe that Bill Gates stepped down from his daily duties at Microsoft).
Making ¥300 million ($3.8 million) last quarter in operating income, Suzuki showed a mark improvement over its ¥1.8 billion ($22.9 million) loss it reported during the same time period last year. That turnaround of fortunes came as Suzuki posted ¥75.4 billion ($961.5 million) in revenue from motorcycle sales, up 8% over 2010’s ¥69.8 billion ($890 million).
While Suzuki’s financial fortunes are on the turnaround, the companies actual unit sales continue to plummet. Selling 642,000 motorcycles this past quarter (yes, twice as much as Harley-Davidson sells worldwide in a year), Suzuki’s motorcycle unit sales are down 21% as the company sold 813,000 motorcycles in Q2 2010.
This loss in sales volumes was primarily due to the massive sales decreases in China (-50% / 215,000 units), though Suzuki posted positive unit sales in in Japan (+10% / 20,000 units), Africa (+34% / 31,000 units), and Central & South America (+33% / 48,000 units). Also making the rostrum of negative sales trends were the big bike markets of the North America (-12% / 15,000 units) and Europe (-32% / 33,000).
Source: Suzuki via Motorcycle.com