celebrating 40+ years of motorcycling

Why Europe and the USA don’t matter

I hang out on some American motorcycle forums as well as my local ones, and one of the constant complaints that my American friends make is, why isn’t the full range of bikes that the Japanese manufacturers produce, available in the USA? If you weren’t aware, the majors only import and market a very small proportion of their total inventory into the USA. Part of the answer to this is that the stupid EPA regulations, especially in California, make it not cost-effective to modify an existing model just to suit a very small market segment.

But it goes far deeper. In fact, neither the USA OR Europe matter in a global marketing sense any more AT ALL. Why? Because the majority of sales are now being made in Asia. Yes, despite many Asian countries having what we would regard as being “dodgy” economies and despite wage levels and standards of living being much lower than what they are in Europe and the USA (and here as well), the Japanese manufacturers are seeing huge sales increases in Asia and are responding accordingly.

Consider this graph. These figures just represent Honda sales, but you can be sure that they are reflected in the figures of the other manufacturers.

Pretty stark, isn’t it?

Here’s some stats to back that up. The figures for North America show just how bad the bike market there is. In 2005, it dwarfed the European or Japanese markets, with sales of 633,000 Honda bikes, but last year it became the smallest of all with only 192,000 new Hondas making their way out of showrooms. By contrast, the Asian market has more than doubled in the last 5 years. In 2010 Honda sold over 14 MILLION bikes in Asia. By contrast, it sold just 258000 units in Europe. That is just incredible.

So, be grateful we get the model range we get and be grateful that we can still buy high-performance machines as well. Honda must be seriously thinking about shifting even more of its emphasis away from bikes that sell in Europe and USA in their thousands, to models that can sell in Asia in their MILLIONS (of course, they already have)

Thanks to visordown for these statistics.


  1. Phil,

    I have been saying for ages, that USA will be a third world country. Asia and especially China,is where it is all happening.
    Australia ia also heading the same way. We are just lucky that the coal and iron ore exports are saving us, and making the government look good. ( ?? )

    The days of USA being a major power in world markets is gone. Maybe in 20 years time, the cycle will come around for them, but, not in the foreseeable future.

    USA screwed the world with the GFC , and they are paying for it.

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