Kawasaki says its worldwide sales of motorcycles, ATVs, utility vehicles, and personal watercraft last year amounted to 519,000 units — 17,000 units or 3.4% higher than sold in the previous 12-month period.
The OEM recently released an annual report for its fiscal year ended March 31. Sales in North America for the period declined 24,000 units, or 9.4%, to 230,000 units; sales in Japan declined 1,000 units, or 4.8% to 20,000 units; sales in Europe rose 21,000 units, or 21.6%, to 118,000 units; and sales in other regions expanded 21,000 units, or 16.2%, to 151,000 units.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries president Tadaharu Ohashi says the motorcycle business is facing "tough market conditions" in the U.S. and parts of Europe.
"The operating environment has become challenging in our core motorcycle business because of the downturn in the U.S. economy, adverse foreign currency movements, and other factors," Ohashi says. "We are taking steps to improve the profitability and product competitiveness of our motorcycles for those markets, while endeavoring to strengthen our development and production systems at the global level."
Although sales to North America are expected to again decline this fiscal year, ending March 31, 2009, Kawasaki says it believes the decrease will be more than compensated for by higher sales in Southeast Asia. As a result, Kawasaki is forecasting a rise in worldwide sales of motorcycles, ATVs, utility vehicles, and personal watercraft for the fiscal year.
Two shining stars in Kawasaki's U.S. model line: the KLR 650 (left, MSRP $5,349) and Ninja 250R (below, $3,499).