Motorcycle market share rumblings

neil-blog1As first-quarter earning statements have trickled out over the past several weeks, one thing has certainly become evident: There are some huge market share rumblings going on. Certainly that appears evident in the on-road motorcycle world. Harley-Davidson recently reported U.S. retail sales of 42,000-plus bikes, which equates to roughly 50 percent of the market share for the on-road business in the first quarter. (Harley actually lists its market share higher because of how it defines its own market.)

Compare that to the year-end 2008 results and you'll start hearing Harry Caray's "Holy cow!" phrase reverberating in your head.

Last year, Harley-Davidson sold 218,000-plus bikes at retail in the United States, or about 36 percent of the on-road market.

That means HOG has swallowed an additional 14 percent of the market from its competitors in the first quarter. Holy cow is right!

Who is Harley taking market share away from? Hard to say. Yamaha today said its recent-quarter U.S. motorcycle retail sales fell 30 percent, which is on par with the industry as a whole. Those numbers, however, include different motorcycle segments - scooters and off-road to name two - so it's not an apples-to-apples comparison with Harley.

Still, I'm guessing Harley's market share gains came from another metric manufacturer or more probable, several metric OEMs.

Of course, the first quarter is hardly the quarter that counts in the on-road motorcycle world. It's the current quarter that will have such a dramatic impact on the final 2009 market share pie.

Stay tuned. It could be a dramatic year in terms of market share winners and losers.


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