SCOOTER SALES CRASH
HE scooter market may have crashed last year, but it is not dead yet, according to Honda.
‘‘I wonder what will happen when the fuel price hits $2,’’ said general manager of Honda Australia Motorcycle and Power Equipment Tony Hinton.
‘‘I don’t think the scooter commuter market is finished yet.’’
His comments follow the release this week by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) of official figures showing scooter sales dropped 32.6 per cent last year, compared with the total scooter, motorcycle and allterrain-vehicle ( ATV) market which declined 13.6 per cent to 115,981.
Road bike sales fell 14.5 per cent and off-road sales were down 12.6 per cent.
But FCAI chief executive Andrew McKellar described the result as ‘‘solid’’ given the economic circumstances.
T‘‘The market has come off a very high base over the previous year, so the industry has certainly stood up well to the economic challenges,’’ he said.
‘‘In fact, this is the fourth highest annual sales result on record and was achieved in tough economic circumstances.’’
One of the hardest hit of the major importers was Honda with sales down 22.1 per cent.
Hinton said they had rationalised their model line-up from 70 models to 56 in 2009.
While Honda had the top-selling motorcycle with the CT110 ‘‘postie bike’’, Hinton said they needed an entry-level 250cc sportsbike to compete with the Kawasaki EX250J which was second and a utility bike to replace their retired XR400 and take on the Suzuki DR-Z400E, the third best-selling bike.
Hinton said the government’s stimulus package had provided some help for the ATV market in July and November with ATVs up 1.9 per cent.
‘‘But the incentives have stopped and the effect is falling away plus interest rate rises will dampen bike demand,’’ he said.
‘‘The market will be pretty flat in 2010 and then we’ll start to see an increase from 2011 onwards.’’
The best performing Japanese brand was Suzuki with sales down 7.2 per cent.
Suzuki Australia motorcycles general manager Perry Morison said they had the top-selling model in the off road, enduro, sport touring and farm categories.
‘‘We also had many models perform strongly in every category,’’ he said.
In 2010, Suzuki will introduce new models such as the fully faired Bandit 1250.
Beset by plunging profits, Harley-Davidson was down 11.4 after a turbulent year in which it announced the axing of its Buell line-up and plans to sell off Italian manufacturer MV Agusta.
Brands with positive results included small importers such as Aprilia (20.9 per cent), Benelli (117.9), BRP (23.2) and Husaberg (172.2).
The Honda CT110