3/14/2011-Sales forecast, electric vehicles among MIC focuses

INDIANAPOLIS — One seeks to provide a better vision of future retail sales.
Another will attempt to provide a better handle on a growing segment.
A third seeks to capture and drive more consumer interest to dealer showroom floors.
Those are among the initiatives the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) will pursue this year, President Tim Buche and other MIC staff members told media members at a Dealer Expo press conference in Indianapolis.
Besides unveiling the initiatives, Buche also reported improvements in a couple of key industry benchmarks as discovered in MIC’s 2009 surveys:

  • Household penetration of motorcycle owners in the United States increased slightly in 2009 over the previous year period to nearly 7 percent;
  • Riders spent more time on their motorcycles in 2009 than the previous year, logging more than 1 million additional miles;
  • The average age of motorcycle riders in 2009 decreased to 40 years old, the first such drop the MIC has seen since it began conducting an owners survey in 1974.
    The nonprofit group’s initiatives will vary tremendously this year. Here is a detailed look at a few of those concentrations:
    Data projects
    The MIC is working on creating two new data projects, a retail sales forecast and a make/model database.
    The nonprofit group has been a primary source of retail sales data for the industry for the past 20 years and is now seeking to expand that role to a quarterly forecast. Pat Murphy, MIC’s vice president of research and technology standards, said the forecast will provide sales trends by segment. How it achieves that forecast is still being examined but the group is looking at including retail sales, dealer information, regulatory updates and owner survey data and economic trends into the forecast model. The forecast also will use feedback from a panel of recognized experts.
    A separate data project in the works is a make and model database, which will standardize
    current and historical vehicle attribute data. The database would break out details such as vehicle type, engine configurations and other info. The database would be available to participants and consumers of the program.
    Electric vehicles
    Last year, the MIC started an Electric Vehicle Task Force, which was created to develop a protocol for determining the range of on-highway electric motorcycles based on a standardized test procedure, and to help provide uniform information to consumers.
    The MIC is also hoping the task force will create a definition of an electric motorcycle, which could then be forwarded to federal lawmaking bodies as well as to individual states. The decision to dive into this developing industry sector was partly based on results of the MIC’s 2009 Motorcycle Owner Survey. That report found half of all motorcycle owners who had heard of electric motorcycles expressed interest in purchasing one in the future.
    Driving dealership traffic
    A promotion that offers consumers a chance to win hundreds of products as well as cash prizes and dealers a chance at elevating store traffic levels is continuing this year.
    The promotion, called Revive Your Ride!, is an industry-wide effort that was created by the MIC aftermarket committee. Last year, thousands of consumers and hundreds of retailers participated in the program.
    This year, two national promotions will be offered, one in the spring and one in the fall. To participate, consumers must pick up an entry form from participating dealers. There is no cost for dealers to participate, other than the cost to purchase entry materials, which is around $20.
    Dealers can visit www.mic.org for more info.
    Fund-raising effort
    The MIC also announced the newly created Right Rider Access Fund, a charitable community benefit organization.
    “Enthusiasts need and deserve more help to ensure they can safely and responsibly operate their OHVs and access riding areas,” Buche said. “By combining the existing support of the powersports industry associations with contributions from businesses and individuals, the financial resources available to support OHV enthusiasts will increase exponentially.
    “Equally important, with industry expertise available to manage the work of the fund on a charitable basis, 100 percent of contributions go to benefit off-highway enthusiasts – none is lost to cover overhead, personnel expenses or fundraising activities.”
    For more information about the fund, go to riderfund.org/faq. PSB

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