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Positive first half mitigated by slow bike exports in July

Despite 4.8 percent growth in exports of Japanese bikes for the first half of the year, JAMA manufacturers experienced weak production and exports in July, dropping by nearly one-fifth compared to last year, according to the latest report from the Japanese Automotive Manufacturers Association.


Exports for the Big Four have been sliding so far this summer and despite double-digit gains through April, exports have dropped 17 percent year-over-year May through July. In July, Suzuki and Kawasaki experienced the greatest decline, dropping 43.5 and 35.5 percent, respectively, for the month. Honda and Yamaha were both down year-over-year in the teens, exporting 12.3 and 17.2 percent less compared to July 2011.

All segments experienced a decline in the double digits, but a 15 percent drop in over 250cc bike exports pushed total exports down 24 percent in July, dragging down a 5 percent growth in exports through June to make 2012 even with 2011. The number of units exported under 125cc was down almost 50 percent for the month, as well, with all unit exports of 50cc and greater bikes down 22 percent.

The manufacturers experienced large drops and gains for different segments, with some experiencing modest export increases in one segment and seeing negatives in others.

Honda experienced an increase in exports for 126cc and greater bikes, while Suzuki, Yamaha and Kawasaki all fell for the month. And while 51-125cc exports were down for Honda and Yamaha, Kawi and Suzuki were both up double digits compared to 2011, jumping 30.4 and 68 percent, respectively.


The production picture was better but still behind 2011. Production of bikes above 250cc was down 9 percent to just under 24,000 units across the Big Four, and despite a solid increase in production for Honda (38.5 percent), weaker production by Yamaha, Kawasaki and Suzuki caused a negative month for the group.

In the 250cc class, Suzuki production was down by 57 percent compared to 2011, and both Yamaha and Kawasaki had declines in production of 7.5 percent and 20.2 percent, respectively.

Major production declines for Suzuki were matched with increases in other segments. While under 50cc bike production was down for the manufacturer by 16.4 percent, 51-125cc was up 26 percent, and 126-250cc production was up 95 percent for the month of July compared to last year. Across all segments, however, Suzuki still felt a decline in production of 25 percent year-over-year.

The decline for the other three wasn’t tempered by production in other classes, however. Production for Kawi was even year-over-year for 51-125cc bikes, but a 53 percent decline in production for 126-250cc bikes and a 20.2 percent decline for 250cc and greater pulled the total for the manufacturer down by more than one-third in July.

Yamaha fared better than Kawi and Suzuki but still experiencing a strong drop in the month. Production of 50cc bikes was even compared with 2011, but was down by 75 percent for 51-125cc bikes. Production of 126-250cc and 250cc-plus motorcycles dipped slightly, dropping 6.6 and 7.5 percent, respectively.

Honda production was even year-over-year for bikes over 50cc, but a 62 percent drop in sub-50cc unit production pulled the manufacturer down 15.2 percent for the month.


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