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That Crashing Sound You Hear Is Yamaha’s Big Bike Sales in the USA

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Things are not well at Yamaha Motor USA, and over the coming days you are going to read a number of reports from us about Yamaha and its US operations.

Before we dive into the multitude of issues that the Tuning Fork brand faces here in the United States though, we wanted to first talk about Yamaha’s crashing sales, because that best frames the company’s entire situation, and is the basis for the other stories that concern the brand.

Now halfway through 2018, Yamaha sales big bike sales (500cc and up) are down a staggering 19% for the last 12 consecutive months, compared to the same previous 12 months before that.

To put that figure into perspective, the big bike market in the USA is down roughly 8% over the same time period, though that figure is due mostly to Harley-Davidson, which accounts for half of the American bike bike market.

When compared to the other Japanese brands – a more relevant comparison – Yamaha’s sales are even more worrying though, as sales for Honda (+2%), Kawasaki (+1%), and Suzuki (+7%) remain fairly flat.

Because of this trend, Yamaha is now the third largest Japanese motorcycle manufacturer in the United States, our sources tell us, a stark contrast to the leadership the brand held just 12 months ago.

It is hard to say where Yamaha is losing sales. The Star lineup of cruisers is certainly not doing well, which shouldn’t be surprising to anyone watching the trends in the space or reading the Harley-Davidson investor reports.

What is surprising to hear though is that sales for the Yamaha FZ-07/MT-07 have softened. A pillar of Yamaha’s new rider lineup, the MT-07 offers strong bang for the buck, but the success of the twin-cylinder motorcycle apparently hasn’t held over time.

Sales for the venerable YZF-R1 superbike are dropping as well, as are sales for the YZF-R6, though it should be mentioned in fairness that the YZF-R6 still accounts for almost half of the US supersport market. These sales drops might be surprising, however, especially considering the near-monopoly that Yamaha has on the MotoAmerica series, but one too has to consider the potent models coming from other manufacturers – most notably on the superbike side of things.

In truth, our sources tell us that it isn’t any one particular model or segment that accounts for Yamaha’s sales catastrophe, but instead that it is minor sales setbacks across many models, across many segments, that are leading to Yamaha’s massive sales decline.

One thing is for sure, it is leading to some interesting decisions from Yamaha Motor USA. Tomorrow, we will tell you some more about it.

Source: Bothan Spies

Jensen Beeler

Despite his best efforts, Jensen is called one of the most influential bloggers in the motorcycle industry, and sometimes consults for motorcycle companies, whether they've solicited his expertise or not.

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