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May 4, 2009 – Retail sales drop more than 30 percent in first quarter

May 4, 2009
Filed under Features

Two-wheel and four-wheel new unit sales fell more than 30 percent in the first quarter compared to the previous-year period, with each major category falling at least 24 percent.
All totaled, the retail sales report by the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) showed a 31.7 percent decline through March, a drop of more than 90,000 vehicles from the previous-year period. The report is comprised of MIC-reporting companies but does not include sales from most new entry OEMs or UTVs.
Part of the first-quarter slump comes as a result of the ban on youth-designed ATVs and motorcycles. The ban on youth-designed vehicles and parts that do not meet new federal lead requirements, which started
Feb. 10, continued in late April. OEM officials contacted for this article could not guess what impact the ban has had on first-quarter sales, although it certainly hit manufacturers differently depending on their model mix.
A separate new unit report, conducted by ADP Lightspeed for Powersports Business, shows sales down the most in the Northwest and the West, with the South, Midwest and the Northeast also down, but at smaller levels.
By major category, here’s a look at the first-quarter retail results:
ATVs were down 33 percent, with 76,455 sold through March. Sales in March were down even more, at 37.6 percent;
On-highway motorcycles fell more than 27 percent to 84,576. Sales in March were off nearly 30 percent.
Off-highway motorcycles, which were certainly affected by the ban, were off nearly 40 percent for the quarter and nearly 48 percent in March.
Scooter sales fell 36.7 percent from a quarter ago while March sales slumped to 46 percent below the March of 2008.

Report: Suzuki lays off more than 15 percent of staff
American Suzuki Motor Corp. laid off more than 15 percent of its staff at its Brea, Calif., headquarters and regional offices, according to Automotive News.
Effective in early April, the staff in the United States went from 570 to 475, the Automotive News report said. Suzuki also reduced its regional offices from four to three and consolidated some functions.
“There used to be separate positions handling service and parts and sales, but now that’s one position,” Jeff Holland, a Suzuki spokesman, said in the article.

Harley-Davidson increases number of production layoffs
Harley-Davidson officials said it is increasing the number of production employee layoffs for this year and 2010 in wake of further refinements to its manufacturing process.
Harley will eliminate an additional 300-400 production positions during the next two years, the company stated in its first-quarter conference call. Harley already had announced the elimination of 800 hourly production jobs earlier this year.
These layoffs come as a result of the company reducing its yearly build by 10-13 percent for 2009 as compared to the
previous year.

KAWASAKI motors corp., u.s.a. names new president
Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A has named a new company president.
Shigehiko (“Scott”) Kiyama, company president since 2006, was succeeded by Takeshi Teranishi April 1.
Kiyama has been at Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A since 2002, serving initially as director of planning, marketing and sales.
Kiyama will return to Japan and assume a new assignment as general manager of the Supply Chain Division, Consumer Products and Machinery Company, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. (KHI).
Teranishi, who most recently headed the sales and marketing division at KHI’s Consumer Products and Machinery Company, has spent several years in the powersports industry. He served in various key planning positions while assigned to Kawasaki’s European operations.

Precision to market, distribute Diamo brand
Precision Powersports, the new owner of Diamo, will continue to market and distribute the Diamo brand of scooters, motorcycles, UTVs and ATVs, stated a press release from the companies.
Precision Powersports purchased the inventory, parts and other assets of LS Motorsports, which is ready for shipment to dealers. The new owners, Jeff Steinkirchner and Larry Cekella, stated in the release, “Precision Powersports is working diligently to insure a quick and seamless transition with current Diamo dealers. In evaluating this opportunity, we realized the Diamo brand of powersports products has a strong reputation for quality and reliability and is a great value for the consumer.”

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