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Here is a common joke that you will often hear: "How do you make a small fortune in the motorcycle industry? Start with a large one." Well, the next time you hear the lead-up, here is a new punchline for you: "Sell a limited edition model."

Motorcycle manufacturers have been onto this gag for a while now, offering limited edition, numbered for collectors, pure unobtanium motorcycle models to the well-heeled masses.

There may not be that many people that can afford a motorcycle that costs as much as a modest house, but there enough of these people in the world that selling a couple hundred expensive superbikes a year is a pretty trivial feat - it helps too that many of these enthusiasts are return-customers too.

Take the case of Ducati, as our Bothan spies have provided us with some interesting information about the Borgo Panigale brand. Last year, the Italian company made more money on its special edition superbikes, than the regular models it sells.

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Episode 77 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is out, and in it we talk about our trip to Austin, Texas for the MotoGP race, as well as some news items we’ve missed in all our travels.

Most notably, we talk about the Krämer HKR EVO2 R track/race bike from Germany, which uses a 690cc single-cylinder engine from KTM inside a bespoke steel trellis frame.

The bike makes 80hp, inside a 280 lbs package, and has been quite the talk of our local road racing club. Once the drool has been mopped up, we change gears at look at what is going on inside the motorcycle industry.

As you can expect, it is not good news. But, the landscape is rapidly changing, and our conversation turns to how manufacturing is about to change dramatically for the motorcycle industry.

Somewhere along the way too, we talk about Erik Buell’s latest project. Overall though, the show is quite interesting and we think you will enjoy it.

You can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. 

We hope you will join the conversation, and leave us some audio comments at our new email address: twoenthusiasts@gmail.com.

Motorcycle sales in the United States might be tanking, but things are looking fairly positive across the pond in Europe, as the ACEM reports a 4.7% increase in motorcycle sales for Q1 2018, for a total of 203,853 units sold in the first three months of this year.

The increase in sales is due to key markets like France (+9.1%), Germany (+1.9%), and the UK (+7.4%) showing good growth, compared to Q1 2017.

However, not all the European countries are showing increases in motorcycle sales, with the Czech Republic (-17.3%), Poland (-28.7%), and Austria (-18.9%) pulling the sales growth figure down considerably.

Not all segments are growing too. While the big bikes are seeing sales increases, European sales for mopeds are down considerably for Q1 2018 (40.2%), to the tune of a 24,996 unit sales decline over last year.

After a dismal 2017, there was some hope at the start of 2018 that the US motorcycle industry would begin an upward climb. The industry seemed enthused and optimistic, though no one could pinpoint why they felt that way during our talks with executives and insiders.

Now, it seems that positive energy was simply that…nothing tangible, as the first results from Q1 2018 are beginning to trickle out of OEM headquarters. First up, Harley-Davidson.

Releasing its Q1 2018 report, Harley-Davidson is reporting a global decrease in sales to the tune of a 7.2% drop compared to its 2017 figures, which breaks down into a 12% drop for the US market, with the international market flat at 0.2% in positive growth.

Net income is down too for the Bar & Shield brand, with net income recorded at $174.8 million (on a revenue of $1.54 billion), which is down 6.2% when you compare it to the $186.4 million in net income from Q1 2017 (made from $1.50 billion in revenue).

The only silver lining for Harley-Davidson in this news is that the American brand isn’t doing as poorly as the US motorcycle market overall, which was down 11.1% in Q1 2018, for the over 600cc segments.

The economic outlook for Harley-Davidson right now is not looking good. Just last year, the Bar & Shield brand cut 118 jobs from its plant in York, citing the need to cut production costs, and to reduce factory capacity so that it was more inline with consumer demand.

That demand has seemingly dropped even further though, as Harley-Davidson will cut 260 jobs from its production ranks, losing roughly 800 positions in Kansas City, but adding 450 positions back to its York facility, where it is consolidating.

The news comes as part of Harley-Davidson’s recounting of its rough go at 2017. The American brand saw its sales in the United States down 8.5% (down 6.7% worldwide), with the fourth quarter of the year taking a particular beating: down 11.1% in the USA (9.6% worldwide).

After yesterday’s news of BMW Motorrad’s modest 1.3% sales drop for 2017, today we have another brand reporting its year sales: Ducati Motor Holding.

Like BMW, Ducati’s sales figures from last year didn’t move the needle much, with the Italian brand showing only 0.7% gain over the previous sales cycle. In total, Ducati delivered 55,871 bikes to customers worldwide, compared to the 55,451 units it sold in 2016.

This marks Ducati’s eighth year of positive sales growth, but over the past two years we have seen that growth crawling almost to a halt, as the Bologna Brand has run out of new markets to develop, and new segments to pursue.

End-of-the-year sales figures are starting to trickle in, now that 2017 is behind us, and BMW Motorrad USA has completed its tally. Selling 13,546 motorcycles in 2017, BMW Motorrad is posting a rare decline in yearly unit sales, down 1.3% last year.

Despite this loss, BMW Motorrad is quick point out that other manufacturers are suffering worse than the German brand, with the industry said to be down 3.2%, while BMW’s relevant competition is said to be down 6.3%.

For those keeping score, that is basically like saying “Yeah sales were bad, but look at how much worse the other guys did” in PR speak.

One should not forget the seven recalls (#1, #2, #3#4, #5#6, and #7 here) that BMW encountered in rapid succession during 2017, including the massive fork recall for the popular R1200GS.

The end of 2017 is here, which means that we will start to see the results from the year’s sales cycle (don’t expect good news).

As such, one of the first companies to report in is Triumph, which shouldn’t be too surprising, considering that the British brand closes its books at the end of June (it’s actually surprising that Triumph waited so long in reporting these numbers).

From July 1, 2016 to June 30 2017, Triumph Motorcycles sold 63,404 motorcycles to its dealerships making £498.5 million in revenue in the process. From that, Triumph was able to make £24.7 million, before taxes.

These numbers mean that Triumph has seen a 12.7% increase in unit sales to dealerships over the past financial period. It also means that on the money side, Triumph has seen increases of 22% (revenue) and 48% (income, pre-tax), which isn’t too shabby.

True to form, KTM North America will not be bringing the new KTM 790 Duke to US soil anytime soon.

Good news though, the American subsidiary is very excited about the KTM 1290 Adventure S coming for the 2018 model year…you know, the big ADV bike that debuted exactly a year ago in Milan.

Surely disappointing more than a few motorcycle enthusiasts in the USA, KTM says that the 790 Duke will arrive in “early fall” of 2018 – you know, when the riding season is over for most of the country – as a 2019 machine.

Yamaha Motor has cause for celebration…just not in the United States, as the Tuning Fork brand posted a 6.6% increase in revenue during the first six months of this year, coupled to a 86.8% increase in net income.

These strong financial figures are due to strong unit sales in emerging markets, like Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, and Taiwan. But, they come with the caveat that sales are flat in Europe, and down in the United States.

Yamaha has some good excuses for its performance in these developed markets: blaming environmental regulations for the lackluster sales in Europe (we assume they are referring to the Euro4 emission requirements), and a weak overall demand for motorcycles in the United States.

If you wanted better proof that the American motorcycle industry is struggling right now, take a look at the expected attendance figures for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which is expecting its 77th gathering to be a bit smaller than in past years.

Some of that is to be expected, of course, after 2015 rally’s record year of 739,000 visitors; but for 2017, numbers are expected to be on par with the disappointing performance seen in 2016, which had 463,000 people in attendance.

For comparison, an average year for Sturgis sees 500,000 to 600,000 motorcyclists thronging to the Black Hills of South Dakota.