Editor's Note: Contributing editor Mike Vaughan is in China covering the 2013 CIMA exposition. Watch for his daily dispatches on new product and exhibitor news, and what it all means for the U.S. market.
CHONGQING, China - I, like many others in our industry, thought that when China finally brought its products to the United States that it would do so like the Japanese, and possibly displace one or two of the Big Four.
That didn’t happen. Poor quality, lack of service parts and information, and haphazard distribution accompanied by the financial implosion of 2007 pretty much closed the door on Chinese motorcycles in the U.S.market. But it didn’t kill the Chinese industry in Asia and Latin America, where it continued to thrive, until this year.
So what is going on?
Most of us are familiar with the motorcycle trade shows held in Cologne, Milan and Indy, but there’s another major show of which many of us aren’t remotely aware, and that’s the China International Motorcycle Trade Exhibition (CIMA), now in its11th year.
The CIMA show is held in Chongqing’s International Convention and Exhibition Center. With 60,000 sq. meters of exhibit space, an expected 400 exhibitors representing about 90 percent of China’s motorcycle manufacturing capability, and an anticipated 120,000 visitors, CIMA bills itself as the largest of its type in Asia and the largest commuter motorcycle show in the world. CIMA ranks as a major world motorcycle event.
CIMA's exhibits include most of China’s domestic manufacturers plus a number of European, Japanese, and American manufacturers. Harley-Davidson (which has 11 dealers in China), BMW, MV Agusta, Benelli, Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and others are in town, showing their latest and greatest.
Though most motorcycles sold in China are 250cc and below and primarily utilitarian, there’s a growing market for motorcycles as recreational and prestige products. There’s also the underlying thought that if China has become the No. 1 auto market in the world over the last decade, then perhaps the same potential is there for motorcycles.
As with Intermot and EICMA, there are opportunities for test rides and product demonstrations, and a number of domestic motorcycle clubs are expected to turn out for the event. Last year’s show drew around 2,000 club members and their motorcycles for a parade, award ceremony and stunt show.
China’s OEs are at a crossroad. Declining sales in domestic and overseas markets are causing them to rethink their strategies. It’s no longer sufficient to be the cheapest product out there; even emerging countries are demanding better quality, service and parts backup. There’s also the notion that in order to make headway in the world market, China needs to shift focus to larger, 600cc-plus motorcycles and compete head-to-head with Japanese and European products.
Dealernews will be covering the show from opening to closing ceremonies, bringing you insights into what opportunities you may have with Chinese products in the future.