MIC Promotes Use of Off-Road Vehicles in China

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When representatives of the Italian motorcycle industry announced last November that they intended to launch a major motorcycle show in China this year, it caught the attention of Tim Buche, head of the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC), the U.S. association of motorcycle, ATV and scooter manufacturers.

“I suggested that there was good value in the MIC facilitating a dialogue on the evolving market for ATVs and similar products in China while I was at the EICMA show last November,” Buche said. Constantino Ruggiero, managing director of EICMA, agreed. And so the Americans began playing a significant role in putting together this year’s show in China.

EICMA is the huge annual motorcycle show held in Milan, Italy. EICMA is owned and operated by the Italian trade association of motorcycle and bicycle manufacturers and producers of aftermarket parts and accessories (ANCMA). It was founded in 1920 and has more than 170 members.

Last year, more than 450,000 visitors from 127 countries packed the six-day show. More than 1,300 brands were spread across 650,000 sq. ft in Milan’s main convention center.

In announcing the agreement last fall with the unit of the China Chamber of Commerce representing motorcycles, an EICMA representative noted the importance of the deal: “The agreement … represents the arrival of the biggest bike show in the world to the biggest bike market in the world: China.” The Chinese market consists of some 26 million units annually, he said.

The show is scheduled to be held in Beijing June 11-13, 2010. It will be organized and operated by a joint venture made up of Chinese and Italian organizations. CIME/China-Italy Motorcycle Exhibition Co. Ltd. is a joint venture of CCCM (the Chinese Chamber of Commerce for Motorcycles), EICMA, and Genertec (International Advertising & Exhibition Co. Ltd.).

During negotiations at EICMA last year, Buche pushed the idea that the China show would be a very good opportunity to promote a better understanding of powersports off-road products. That seems like a good idea that could pay dividends for U.S. companies manufacturing off-road products, such as Polaris, which has had an office in Shanghai for two years.

During my recent visits to China, it became apparent that the growing middle class is creating disposable income that it is prepared to spend for off-road recreation, whether it’s hiking or camping or riding. And as China opens up rural regions of the country with its road-building programs, off-road recreation seems to be a growing option for more and more people.

“The MIC serves one of the great consumer markets in the world,” Buche said, “and the products we ride come from the U.S. and around the world. The opportunity to stimulate discussion on market dynamics, consumer use, safety and training, vehicle standards, technical issues such as mandatory standards, youth vehicle requirements, and testing and certification should prove valuable to participants.”

The U.S. participation in such an international powersports event can only help it work closer with the new Beijing office being developed by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

The MIC isn’t new to EICMA. MIC and its related organizations have been working with the show since 2004.

Is the China project a good use of MIC funds? Buche says it is: MIC members can benefit from knowledge of individual markets around the world, and the exchange of information on technical subjects can be invaluable, he says. This effort seems to be another example of the growing aggressiveness of the MIC in pushing its agenda into new markets and new demographics. And that isn’t a bad thing, is it? — Joe Delmont