A Bloomberg article says that motorcycle sales are already bouncing back. While the U.S. automobile industry saw sales drop an average of 12 percent year over year, motorcycle sales posted a more modest drop of 10.6 percent according to Motorcycles Data.
Before the impact of COVID-19 became prevalent, 2020’s motorcycle sales were on the rise for many manufacturers. Things were actually beginning to look pretty good for the industry on average.
Despite a few manufacturers that may continue to see hard times, others think that the time is ripe for the motorcycle industry to recover not only from pre-pandemic levels but to better than pre-pandemic levels.
At least two CEOs have gone on record saying that they think that the COVID pandemic will drive better sales in the future. So who’s saying this and why do they think that sales will rebound beyond pre-COVID levels?
KTM CEO Stefan Pierer
Particularly in the US, KTM motorcycles have seen nearly continuous growth for the last several years. KTM’s (now Pierer Mobility) CEO Stefan Pierer says that his company reacted quickly to mitigate the impact of COVID by stopping production in mid-March.
In an interview with Le Peaire des Motards, Pierer said that KTM has not seen much of an issue with its sales since reopening from COVID. He went on to say that his company has actually hired 40 more people since the pandemic took hold.
Pierer went on to say that he thinks that the powered two-wheeler industry is thriving to some extent after COVID.
“Fortunately for us, the powered two-wheeler industry is thriving to some extent after the Covid. In all the countries that have reopened since containment, there is an increasing demand for our products.” – Stefan Pierer to Le Peaire des Motards
Pierer’s thought is that many people are buying motorcycles and powered two-wheelers in the wake of COVID because they don’t want to ride public transit or be confined in a vehicle with other people. And, he says this is happening around the world.
But it’s not all roses and sunshine at KTM. The KTM boss thinks that his brands were unable to produce about 30,000 bikes during the COVID shutdown. Saying that these units were “lost”, Pierer doesn’t think he can recover all lost units. He thinks that his brands may recover possibly 15,000 powered two-wheelers during this calendar year. But to do so, they will have to work overtime and ramp up production.
Royal Enfield’s CEO Vinod Dasari
Another CEO that thinks recovery beyond pre-COVID levels is possible is Royal Enfield’s CEO, Vinod Dasari. In an interview, Dasari said that once supplier issues have been resolved, sales will come back stronger.
His thoughts are similar to those of Pierer. He thinks that once the COVID lockdowns are gone, the demand for powered two-wheelers will come back stronger for two reasons.
First, he says that there is pent up demand for the machines. And, he says he knows that there is pent up demand. Dasari says he knows it as a result of Royal Enfield’s use of digital media.
Both during and after the pandemic, Royal Enfield is using digital media to stay in touch with its customers. They are using the medium to drive enthusiasm over new models and the brand’s other products. Additionally, they are seeing people writing stories about their travels on their Bullet and other Royal Enfield models.
“Once the lockdown is lifted, the demand side will actually come back stronger for two reasons. One is that there is a pent up demand. We have been engaging quite a bit with our customers digitally and obviously because of the lockdown, the digital engagement scores are through the roof but the level of engagement is simply superb.”
“People are writing stories about their trips on Bullet and other Royal Enfield motorcycles and the level of enthusiasm about new models and other products from Royal Enfield is truly very encouraging. So there is a pent up demand.” – Vinod Dasari to Economic Times of India.
The second reason that Dasari thinks sales will recover past pre-COVID levels is similar to the one that Pierer cites. Dasari references the public’s potential desire to continue social distancing:
“The second thing is, as you had said earlier, there could be this potential that people will not want to travel in public transport; so maybe they will buy cars or two wheelers and that could also mean well for the motorcycle industry and for Royal Enfield.” – Vinod Dasar to the Economic Times of India
So at least two moto manufacturer CEOs think that the future is somewhat rosy. They think that business will not only return to pre-COVID levels but continue to grow. What do you think about their viewpoints? Do you think that they are right? Or, do you think that the impacts of COVID will be felt for a long time to come? Tell us your opinions in the comments below.