MIC Comments on Q1 Sales Drop

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The MIC issued a statement Thursday regarding the huge first-quarter sales drop it announced earlier in the week (click here for our report). The president of the MIC said that one problem among many is that dealers need more wholesale financing.

The council noted that in the first quarter, motorcycle retail sales among the 12 reporting OEMs were down 30.5 percent compared to the same period last year.

“Generally affordable, fuel-efficient dual-purpose motorcycles declined the least, by 24 percent,” the statement said. “The off-highway market went down the most, by 39.7 percent, some of which is linked to the government’s ban on youth models due to a controversial new law regarding lead content in consumer products.”

The statement quoted MIC president Tim Buche as saying: “There are still many customers wanting new motorcycles, both veteran riders and those wanting to join in the fun and gain the benefits. But in reaction to the economy, there have been some production cuts. And the lead ban turned many parents away from buying new dirtbikes for their kids. There’s a need for wholesale financing to help keep dealerships supplied with inventory, and a need for consumer credit to loosen up so that dealerships can get those new bikes out on the roads and on the trails. It’s very hard to get retail financing now, even if you have good credit.”

The sales decline follows a relatively flat year for motorcycles, the statement said. “The MIC’s preliminary estimate for all motorcycles and scooters sold nationwide in 2008 is 1,087,000, down just 3.3 percent compared to 2007,” it said.

“Sales still topped the 1 million mark, and did so for the sixth straight year. That beat the longest run of million-plus sales ever recorded by the MIC, during the five years from 1970 to 1974. Also, scooter sales last year reached their highest annual level ever, currently estimated at 222,000.” (Note that this figure includes scooter makers that don’t report numbers to the council.)

Despite all this positive spinning, the statement ended on a down note: “Among the major brands, scooter sales through the first quarter of 2009 were down 36.7 percent compared to the first three months of 2008. The on-highway market declined by 27.3 percent.”