Despite 2011 growth in Class-1 motorcycles sales, a weakening in that segment is expected to drive a decrease in overall bike demand in 2012, according to projections from the Japanese Automobile Manufacturer's Association.
Japan's motorcycle market managed a 5.1 percent increase in 2011 over 2010, selling 445,000 units, which it said was the first year-over-year increase in six years. Year-over-year gains were achieved in the Class-1 (50cc and under) segment and the mini-sized motorcycle category.
Despite that growth, the group said it expects total demand in 2012 to drop 2.7 percent from 2011, particularly in the Class-1 segment. Class-2 and higher bikes (over 50cc) are expected to increase from 2011.
JAMA said the expected drop in Class-1 sales in 2012 is attributable to the impact of new models in the marketplace expected to begin taking effect in 2012, resulting in an anticipated 8.2 percent drop in demand, or only 236,000 units for the year.
Class-2 (51-125cc), mini-sized (126-250cc) and small-sized bikes (over 250cc) are expected to have an increase in demand in 2012, the group said. Class-2 bike sales are expected to spike the most with a projected growth of 7.6 percent in 2012 compared to the previous year.
Mini-sized bikes grew 3.3 percent year-over-year in 2011, which the group attributes to favorable consumer response to sports-type models, even as the demand for scooters continued to slide. 2012 demand should be up 2.9 percent with 40,000 units.
Small-sized motorcycles are projected to grow 1.2 percent in 2012, after finishing 2011 down 8.2 percent from the previous year. JAMA attributed the 2011 drop in this segment to consumer response to a sluggish economy and the effects of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.