- by GI Magazine
- Sep 15, 2022
JAPAN, July 7 (The Japan Times): The home market of Japan's motorcycle manufacturers, who long ago turned their attention abroad to offset declining domestic sales, is now experiencing a rise in demand. In the first half of the year, sales of motorcycles with engines greater than 251 ccs increased by 32% to 51,035 units, according to information made public this week by the Japan Light Motor Vehicle and Motorcycle Association. Honda Motorcycle Japan's chief of sales, Hideaki Iwami, remarked, "I never believed I would see anything like this.
Honda Motor Co., Yamaha Motor Co., and Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. have been operating with the presumption that local sales will decline due to the aging population over the previous few decades. However, that trend has now reversed, at least temporarily, as a result of shifting consumer behavior. People now have more spare cash because of the pandemic and a greater desire to spend time outside, but they must wait months or even years to get a new car because of persistent parts scarcity. For prospective purchasers like Yurika Kakiuchi, a 40-year-old office worker who resides in Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture, this makes motorcycles an alluring alternative. She recently earned a license for riding motorbikes with a maximum 400 cc displacement and intends to go to the next level for larger machines. Kakiuchi stated, "I wanted to learn something new.
Honda topped the sales charts this year with 15,142 units, an increase of 54%. Suzuki Motor Corp. gained 19%, while Kawasaki finished second with a 69 percent increase. However, Yamaha Motor recorded a 6.8% fall in unit sales. Iwami claimed that people look at motorcycles differently. Because they dine out less and travel less, they have more money saved. They also view bikes as a convenient way to get around and avoid crowded public transportation. Domestic unit sales "may exceed" 100,000 units this year for the first time since 1998, he said, if the strong demand trend continues.
In the 1980s, when they were widely utilized for commuting and local shopping, motorcycle sales in Japan reached their pinnacle. A crackdown on unlawful parking and the growing appeal of electrified bicycles, in addition to shifting demographics, have all led to a gradual drop. Older riders are coming back to the market and purchasing motorcycles to enjoy in their later years. Iwami further claimed that younger consumers are drawn to motorcycles due to their relative affordability as compared to cars, citing the fact that 70% of buyers of Honda's well-liked CBR400R model and 65% of owners of the Rebel 250 are in their 30s or younger. Iwami maintains a sober optimism, recognizing that the pandemic is abating and that consumer preferences might shift once more. However, "there are enormous back orders and production can't keep up" at the moment.