Yamaha expects 6 percent drop in U.S., Canada motorcycle sales

Publish Date: 
Feb 23, 2009
By Arlo Redwine

YAMAHA in Japan projects it will wholesale 156,000 motorcycles in North America (the U.S. and Canada) this year, a year-over-year drop of 6.2 percent. If this happens, Yamaha’s unit sales will actually fall less than they did in 2008, when they fell 15 percent compared to the previous year.

These numbers are part of Yamaha Motor Co.’s financials for the fiscal year ended Dec. 31, during which the company reports worldwide net sales fell 8.7 percent to ¥1.6 trillion ($16 billion). Net income fell a whopping 97 percent to ¥1.9 billion ($18 million). Net income per share dropped all the way from ¥249 in 2007 to just ¥6.

Dismal, but not as dismal as the company’s forecast for 2009, during which it predicts a loss of ¥42 billion, or ¥147 per share — thanks in part to a worsening exchange rate. The yen’s value increased about 13 percent against the dollar during 2008. Japanese companies lose money when they convert dollars into their more valuable currency.

Other highlights from the report:


  • Yamaha retail sales during 2008 in the U.S.: 165,000 motorcycles (down only 1 percent compared to the previous year), 94,000 ATVs (down 30 percent) and 33,000 side-by-sides (down 21 percent).
  • Yamaha wholesale numbers during 2008 in the U.S.: 147,000 motorcycles (down 17 percent), 90,000 ATVs (down 30 percent) and 38,000 side-by-sides (down 21 percent).
  • Yamaha retail sales during the fourth quarter in the U.S.: 20,000 motorcycles (down 31 percent compared to the same period in 2007), 21,000 ATVs (down 42 percent) and 7,000 side-by-sides (down 46 percent). Note that Rhino sales fell more than ATV sales, although the side-by-side market has done better as of late.
  • Yamaha wholesale numbers during the fourth quarter in the U.S.: 47,000 motorcycles (up 2 percent), 29,000 ATVs (down 26 percent) and 8,000 side-by-sides (down 33 percent).
  • At year-end, about 124,000 motorcycles were sitting in dealerships and Yamaha warehouses. This compares to 137,000 units at the end of 2007. The same inventory numbers for ATVs: 82,000 at year-end 2008 compared to 81,000 the year before. (For perspective, compare all these numbers with last year’s retail sales listed in the first bullet point.)
  • Although Yamaha wholesaled 15 percent fewer motorcycles in North America in 2008, revenue from the region declined 23 percent due not only to a less favorable exchange rate, but to a changing model mix (i.e., smaller, less-expensive bikes). Similarly, the company expects to bring in 20 percent less cash in 2009 correlating with the only 6 percent fall in unit sales to dealers.
  • Yamaha “countermeasures to improve operating revenue” include a faster integration of Yamaha’s three main businesses in the U.S. and Europe — the businesses that make motorcycles, ATVs and outboard motors. Yamaha says it’s changing from “manufacturing by business” to “manufacturing by parts.” Purchasing and development for the three businesses are being integrated as well.
  • “Urgent countermeasures” planned for 2009 include a across-the-board reductions in expenses; reduced pay for directors, executive officers and managers; a reduction in parts costs; a reduction in costs by restructuring the process for new model development; the temporary suspension of production in Japan; a drastic reduction in investments “except ones for new model or regulatory compliance”; and the cancellation or postponement of new factories and R&D facilities in Japan.
  • “Future technologies” mentioned in the report include the strengthened development of electric vehicle technologies.
  • Turn to page 40 of the presentation (see above link) for a table showing the total demand for motorcycles and ATVs in the U.S. for each month of 2008 and 2007.