Study: World demand for motorcycles to grow

Publish Date: 
Sep 25, 2009

According to a brochure promoting a new study, the global demand for motorcycles, which was 79.2 million units in 2008, will increase 7.6 percent per year through 2013.

World Motorcycles (Including Electric Bicycles & Mopeds) is a 396-page study produced by The Freedonia Group, a Cleveland-based research firm that sells the full report for $5,700.

The increase in demand reportedly will be spurred by rising standards of living in developing parts of the world, which are making motorcycles a more affordable alternative to walking, bicycling or using mass transit. According to the study’s summary, 82 percent of the world’s demand in 2008 was in the Asia/Pacific region, 6 percent was in Africa and the Mideast, 6 percent was in Latin America and 6 percent was in other regions like North America. (No other statistics pertaining to the U.S. was mentioned in the brochure.)

The study predicts that compared to the growth in demand, the total value of sales will expand at a slightly slower pace. Why? A future decline in sales-weighted prices due to fast market growth in low-priced electric motorcycles and smaller internal-combustion-engine (ICE) motorcycles.

According to the study’s summary, electric motorcycles, which are “extremely popular” in China but account for a minimal share of demand in most other parts of the world, will register the strongest market advances. Sales of battery-powered bicycles, scooters and other two-wheelers will be driven by their generally lower retail prices, low cost of operation and lack of harmful emissions. But ICE motorcycles will continue to account for more than 95 percent of all demand outside of China in 2013.

Light motorcycles, the summary says, will outperform other ICE product types and maintain their position as the largest single segment of the motorcycle market.

The strongest sales advances through 2013, the summary states, will be registered in the Africa/Mideast region. This will be due to several factors, including the fastest population growth of any region, the lowest median age and the lowest (but climbing) per-capita GDP.

The summary continues: “Population increases and higher standards of living will also help stimulate demand in the Asia/Pacific region, which will post the second-strongest gains, followed by Eastern Europe (rising from a very small current market base) and Latin America. China alone will account for 55 percent of all additional sales through 2013, spurred by very strong electric motorcycle demand and solidifying its position as the biggest national motorcycle market.”