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Mar. 10, 2008 – Motorcycle Digest

March 10, 2008
Filed under Features

An Executive Roundtable on Industry Issues

Delegates from each of the Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Association’s (JAMA) four major companies recently gathered for a discussion on the world marketplace, in addition to other topics, the association said in a statement Feb. 8.
Among the attendees were Akira Araki, motorcycle operations head at Yamaha Motor Co.; Minoru Harada, senior managing and representative director/chief operating officer for motorcycle operations at Honda Motor Co.; Akira Tsugihiro, managing executive officer and general manager, domestic motorcycle, marine and power products marketing with Suzuki Motor Corp.; and Shinichi Tamba, senior vice president/president of consumer products and machinery for Kawasaki Heavy Industries.
Led by a moderator, each spoke briefly on issues the industry is facing.
Regarding performance in Asian markets, Suzuki’s Tsugihiro said, “Next year we’ll be launching a new joint venture [in China], and are thinking in terms of supplying products built there to destinations outside China.”
Turning to Europe and North America, participants saw a mixed bag.
“In the U.S., neither our motorcycles nor our all-terrain recreational vehicles are doing so well,” said Honda’s Harada. “In contrast, sales in Europe remain strong. But it’s a mature market, so growth potential is limited. One positive aspect is that the market there is expanding into Eastern Europe.”
Kawasaki’s Tamba said:?“Although our U.S. sales are down, their decline hasn’t proven commensurate with the slump in the economy, so we’re determined to keep performance figures up. The European market to date was driven by Italy and Spain, but sales in those two countries have fallen off, whereas in the U.K. and Germany they’ve picked up.”
Looking to South America, the delegates saw lots of growth potential.
“We think demand in Brazil will climb to about 2.5 million units per year by 2010-11” compared to the 1.6 million sold in 2007 in the country, said Yamaha’s Araki. “Colombia is also performing well, and with the focus on Brazil we see South America generating robust results over the next five to six years at least.”

BMW’s Worldwide Motorcycle Sales Decline

Sales for the year have gotten off to a rocky start for the BMW Group, according to its recently released January sales results.
The company posted an 11.1 percent drop in its worldwide motorcycle sales for the month compared to January 2007 to 3,689 units sold. BMW, however, maintains a positive outlook for the segment over the year as a whole.
Overall company sales, including auto, were down slightly (1.6 percent) for the month. During the month, 92,629 BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce brand vehicles were delivered to customers.

Special Fund-Raising Event Planned in March

Members of the motorcycle industry are getting together for a special ride that will heighten the awareness of Cystic Fibrosis and raise research funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Among the riders for the special event will be Broc Glover, the AMA Hall of Famer whose 6-year-old son Dayne has Cystic Fibrosis, an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States.
Also slated to appear for the special event are custom builder Jesse Rooke and others from the industry.
The ride will be held Sunday, March 30, in Temecula, Calif. Ride organizers are asking for charitable donations. For more information, contact Scott Cox at 760/436-9937 or scott@resmarket.com.

Buell Announces 2008 Inside Pass Track Day Schedule

Buell Motorcycle Co. announced the 2008 Inside Pass track day schedule, with stops at 10 of the nation’s race tracks.
Beginning its second full season, the Inside Pass program starts March 10 at Homestead-Miami Speedway and concludes Nov. 17 at Northern California’s Infineon Raceway, with coast-to-coast stops in between premier facilities such as Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Road America, Barber Motorsports ParkVirginia International Raceway.
Buell enthusiasts can look forward to limited enrollment, catered lunches and free gifts, including a T-shirt and knee pucks for all participants.
Inside Pass also offers the unique opportunity to test the company’s products in a track environment through the Inside Pass Demo program, including the Lightning XB12Ss, Firebolt XB12R and the all-new 1125R.

Aprilia, Moto Guzzi Provide Outlook for 2008

After a successful 2007, Aprilia and Moto Guzzi plan to see continued success this year.
Aprilia USA and Moto Guzzi, both owned by Piaggio Group, plan to expand location and model wise, according to the companies’ press releases.
One addition to Moto Guzzi’s models will be an entry into the adventure touring segment. The company is also releasing a new eight-valve engine. A model Piaggio expects to debut this quarter is the new SL750 Shiver. The company says the bike has technological advances, which includes the first-in-segment application of ride-by-wire throttle control technology. Last year, Aprilia saw an increase in motorcycle retail unit sales of 29 percent, which was driven by the Tuono 1000 R Factory. Its scooter retail unit sales rose 56 percent during the year period. Like Aprilia, Moto Guzzi also saw an increase in sales with total unit sales up 15 percent.
Piaggio Group Americas President and CEO Paolo Timoni says the successful 2007 year has created excitement and optimism for the 2008 year. “We had a good year in 2007 increasing retail sales in a market that was declining,” Timoni said in the release. “For 2008 and beyond, it is our mission to continue to build our brand in this country by ensuring that more enthusiasts get the opportunity to feel the joy of riding one.”
Piaggio added more than 40 Aprilia dealerships last year and Moto Guzzi added 25 U.S. dealers.
“We expect the number of Aprilia and Moto Guzzi dealers to increase by about 30-40 dealers for each brand (most dealers carry both brands),” Timoni told Powersports Business. psb

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