The COVID-19 pandemic has had an overall deleterious near-term impact on the global motorcycle market, with 2020 sales declines driven by economic weakness in most major markets, especially the US, where COVID-19 cases still continue to surge and economic relief remains minimal, stifling the ability of consumers, many of whom have lost jobs or took pay cuts, to invest in bigger ticket items.
Nevertheless, a number of trends that emerged during the pandemic provided silver linings and are expected to have a positive effect long term as going forward. For instance, efforts to reduce crowding on public transportation is leading more consumers to use motorcycles, scooters, moped, and e-bikes instead, growing the user base for these items:
- The UK is spending £250 million to create “pop-up” cycling and walking infrastructure to allow for physical distancing as the country remains under partial lockdown.
- Italy is providing new subsidies to citizens who purchase e-bikes or electric scooters in order to avoid crowding on public transportation.
Additionally, consumers who experienced less financial disruption and found themselves spending more time at home under lockdown took up new hobbies. Among the most popular pastimes consumers turned to was biking. In particular, e-bikes saw an explosion in demand earlier on in the pandemic that suppliers struggled to keep up with.
How will the $88 billion global motorcycle market fare in a post-COVID world? Below, we examine key trends to watch.
Global Motorcycle Sales Forecast to Hit $130 Billion in 2024
The global motorcycle market is projected to expand 4.3% per year through 2024 to 128.0 million units, a significant improvement over the 2014-2019 performance. Despite the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, numerous trends will fuel the expansion of the global motorcycle market, including:
- rising personal income levels and consumer spending in developing areas, as well as increasing access to financing options for motorcycle purchases
- surging demand for e-bikes and electric scooters and motorcycles in Asia (outside of China), Europe, and North America as concerns about the environment and air pollution become more prevalent
- governments around the world offering subsidies for electric model purchases, investing in the necessary transportation infrastructure, and supporting related programs (e.g., ride sharing)
- introduction of newly developed, high performance medium and heavy ICE models, which will help spur both new and replacement product sales globally and contribute to market gains in value terms
Despite Weakness in the Leading China Market, Asia/Pacific Region’s Dominance Continues
Through 2024, 67% of global motorcycle demand gains will stem from the Asia/Pacific region, despite China’s subpar performance. Developing countries in the region have strong growth prospects because:
- they have large populations
- their economies are expected to perform particularly well
- their motorcycle stocks are modest by regional standards
- their public transportation options are limited
Among the developing countries expected with the best opportunities are Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Pakistan. Several markets that are at a later stage of development – such as Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam – will also contribute to regional gains, while surging demand for electric models is expected to provide much of the impetus for growth in mature markets.
China, however, will register weak growth due to the large number of motorcycles already in use; surging automobile sales; the expansion of its public transportation system; and new limits on the use of both ICE and electric motorcycles.
Electric Models Increasingly Popular Outside of China
Although the growth prospects for the mature Chinese market are limited, sales of electric models outside the country are forecast to climb 11% annually through 2024, aided by:
- an increasing number of manufacturers that offer electric models
- the development of better performing e-bikes, and electric motorcycles and scooters
- government programs aimed at encouraging and subsidizing purchases of electric models
- the expansion of public charging networks; and growing concerns about air pollution
Fast growth in the electric motorcycle industry, which is still relatively new, has depended on technological innovation to improve performance and make electric models more competitive with ICE models:
- Historically, electric motorcycles were used in cities due to their limited speed and range, which restrained worldwide demand for these products.
- Electric models also travel shorter distances between refueling and typically have less powerful engines.
In recent years, electric motorcycle models have been developed that are capable of reaching over 100 kph, thus allowing them to be used safely on highways. Advances have also increased the range of electric motorcycles, with newer models on the market offering a maximum range of over 150 kilometers. Hybrid versions can increase this range to over 200 kilometers.
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About the Author:
Peter Kusnic is a Content Writer with The Freedonia Group, where he researches and writes studies focused on an array of industries.