Trust me that what I'm about to say isn't some kind of sordid attempt at finding some industry silver lining, however irrelevant it might be. So here goes: Franchise ATV retailers are, perhaps unbeknownst to them, in the midst of some good news.
Sounds crazy, right? After all, first-half retail quad sales were off 32 percent from a year ago and that year, 2008, wasn't exactly a highlight in itself. However that retail sales data from the Motorcycle Industry Council does not include imports from who knows how many Far East manufacturers, and we all know that any discussion of the ATV market isn't complete without looking at that huge and mostly mysterious part of the segment.
What we do know, courtesy of U.S. Census Bureau data, is the number of imports from China in the "ATV category" has fallen dramatically. In fact, "dramatically" might not be a strong enough characterization. Through the first six months of this year, imports from China in that ATV category have fallen 73 percent from the year-ago period.
Now a bit of a technical note here. The "ATV category" does not reflect only quads as U.S. customs and border patrol count imported ATVs as part of a larger category of motor vehicles. (UTVs are not part of that category, nor are golf carts.) However, ATVs are believed to be the major vehicle in terms of numbers in that classification.
So yes, sales of ATVs from MIC-reporting manufacturers continue to be down but it appears they could be capturing a much larger part of the market due to the drastic decline in Chinese imports.