Motorcyle Sales Blow In 3rd Quarter

If you watch TV, listen to the radio, talk to friends, glance at billboards, read magazines, newspapers, flyers, tea leaves or chicken bones you know that we in the big ol' US of A are mired in an economic slump the likes of which haven't been seen since the last big economic slump and won't be seen again until the next big economic slump. Jeepers.

What it really means is the mediagenic prophets of doom have managed to so scare people that even if their retirement/homes/jobs are safe they are too terrified to buy something as nonessential to their continued existence on earth as a motorcycle. So, gentle readers, that giant sucking sound you heard was the manufacturers' third quarter and year-to-date earnings.

Let's start with our friends, the Bavarians.  From January until September of this year, BMW Motorrad's 500cc plus segment fell by 31.5% over the previous year. European and U.S. numbers paint a dismal tale. In Europe, the Spanish market tanked the worst (off by 58.3%) with the UK the least (-8.9%). The home of BMW, Germany, was off 15.5%. The U.S. market decline was a killer, off a whopping 43% year-to-date.

As would be expected when facing less demand for product, motorcycle production at the plant in Berlin has been reduced selectively by about 22%. BMW's woes are not their burden alone, they are industry-wide.

In Japan, damage wreaked by a Godzilla-type movie monster might be preferred to skittish buyers. (At least monster damage might be covered by insurance.) Since January of 2009, Japanese manufacturers have produced 67.2% fewer over 250cc bikes for markets worldwide.  U.S. sales of the over-250cc Japanese bikes are off by 79.8%. Yes, you read that correctly, down nearly 80%.

The pain is deep and universal. The following is the manufacturer, the units produced so far this year and the percentage of the previous year. In other words, Honda's 10,364 bikes manufactured in 2009 is only 48% of what they produced last year.

Honda 10,364 48.0%
Suzuki 8,932 36.0%
Yamaha 10,281 55.7%
Kawasaki 8,727 75.3%

Kawasaki is strongest on number of motorcycles produced, but understand that these are the numbers of bikes BUILT, not the number of bikes SOLD.
These numbers courtesy of

Meanwhile, Harley Davidson reports a Q3 loss of about 22%, which was about 8% BETTER than its Q2 numbers. Harley-Davidson Financial Services took a HUGE hit, which helped send net income tumbling by 84% in the third quarter.
Polaris says Victory cycles are off by 56% in Q3 and 53% year-to-date.  Indian Motorcycles, which post sales figures to an Etch-A-Sketch,  are offering to pay your first SIX payments if you will just take one of their motobeasts off the dealer floor.
With dismal sales and dealers dying to make deals, now is the time to buy, buy, buy.

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