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U.S. New Cycle Sales Pass 1 Million Units

March 16, 2005
Filed under Features

The Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) estimates nearly 1,050,000, two-wheelers were sold in the United States in 2004, representing a sales increase for the 12th year in a row.
The MIC tallies sales for members Aprilia, BMW, Ducati, Harley-Davidson/Buell, Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, Piaggio, Suzuki, Triumph, Victory and Yamaha. Sales of non-member OEMs are not counted in MIC figures.
The organization says sales of its 12 major partner manufacturers were up 4.7% compared to sales in 2003. Cruisers remained the top sellers, followed by sportbikes and touring bikes.
Motorcycle sales in 2004 reached their highest level since 1979. The year recognized by the MIC as having the highest number of new bike sales is 1973, when Americans purchased more than 1.5 million motorcycles. A low point came in 1992, when only about 278,000 new motorcycles and scooters were sold.
“One important growth segment is women, who now account for nearly10% of owners,” says Tim Buche, MIC president.
However, an easing of sales could occur due to several factors. Foreign brands account for a majority of U.S. motorcycle sales and a weak dollar means possible price increases. Prices of steel and other materials used in manufacturing are rising, cutting profits and raising the specter of higher prices. Further, Harley-Davidson dealer inventories roughly tripled last year, indicating a possible leveling off of sales.
Scooters accounted for 5% of motorcycle sales last year, reports the MIC, with their sales rising 3.8% from 2003. However, 2003 sales were up 19.8% from 2002.
Based on the latest available market-share data from the MIC, the top-selling brands in 2003 were Honda with 27.4%; Harley-Davidson, 23.7%; Yamaha, 17.4%; Suzuki, 10.8%; and Kawasaki, 8.7%. Cruisers account for about one of every three motorcycles sold, making them the largest market segment.
The average age of motorcyclists rose to 41 in 2003, (the latest available year’s statistic) from 32 in 1990. The majority were married and one third were college graduates, nearly twice the 1990 number.

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