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March 13, 2006 – U.S. cycle market grows again

March 13, 2006
Filed under Features

National sales of motorcycles and ATVs dropped roughly 5 percent last year, but year-end figures also showed considerable bright spots for the powersports industry.
Motorcycle and ATV sales in the United States reached 1,682,421 units in 2005, down from 1,778,369 units sold in 2004, according to figures compiled by the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC).
However, while ATV sales dropped 4 percent from 812,970 units in 2004 to 780,433 units in 2005, two-wheeler sales reached 1,116,000 units last year, a 5 percent rise in sales compared to the 1,063,000 units sold in 2004. It marked the 13th straight year of growth.
“Motorcycles and scooters have become far more mainstream, both an accepted form of transportation and recreation, and regarded as cool machines to own and collect,” said Tim Buche, president of the MIC. “We don’t know from any formal study that $3 for a gallon of gas helped boost sales, but dealerships have been answering lots of mileage-related questions, and better fuel economy gives people yet another reason to buy and ride.”
The MIC documents trends compiled by member companies. Participating manufacturers include Aprilia, Arctic Cat, BMW, Bombardier, Buell, Ducati, Harley-Davidson, Honda, John Deere, Kawasaki, KTM, Piaggio, Polaris, Suzuki, Triumph, Victory and Yamaha.
Sales started flat last year, during one of the worst winters on record, but rebounded in summer and fall. Among the 12 leading motorcycle brands, sales of on-highway models for the third quarter of 2005 shot up 16 percent compared to the same period in 2004. And, between July and September, scooter sales among the aforementioned brands climbed an impressive 65 percent.
Of the four segments of two-wheeler documented by the MIC — scooter, on-highway, dual purpose and off-highway — only three experienced full-year sales growth: sales of off-highway motorcycles declined 4.4 percent, from 289,650 units in 2004 to 276,982 units in 2005.
The biggest gain was experienced by the dual purpose segment, which accounted for sales of 29,610 units in 2005, up 29.3 percent from sales of 22,908 units in 2004. Full-year scooter sales numbered 56,899 units, up 17.5 percent from 48,445 units, and on-highway motorcycles, responsible for the majority of purchases, numbered 645,503 units, up 6.8 percent from 604,396 units in 2004.
The zenith for annual motorcycle sales occurred in 1973, when U.S. consumers bought more than 1.5 million units. Sales for 1979 topped the 1 million mark, then cooled in the 1980s and early 1990s.
— Guido Ebert

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