An Introduction to the Motorcycle market in China
The motorcycle market in China developed comparatively late. Whereas motorcycles first became popular in the 1920s in Europe and America, China wouldn’t begin producing them until 1951.
Motorcycle are much cheaper than cars, not only to purchase but also the operating costs are generally less (fuel, repair, etc,). Take a Zongshen ZS100-S for instance: the average fuel consumption is 1.9 liters per 100 km, a figure lower than many hybrid automobiles. The use of motorcycles has less of a polluting impact compared to cars, and two-wheelers are less regulated in terms of insurance or licensing, further reducing their costs.
Another positive note is motorcycles are faster in cities: Li Bin, the Secretary of China’s Automobile Association of Motorcycles, published a test result showing how motorcycles are the quickest means of transportation in terms of commute time, followed by buses. Cars were ranked slowest. Riding a motorcycle not only means quicker commutes and a reduced contribution to road congestion, but also greater ease and convenience in parking due to their smaller size. However, production and sales of motorcycles in China are about to shrink. The industry was effected by the global recession in 2008, and is set to continue its decline based on an average decrease over the past 5 years. The domestic motorcycle market will decline by around 8% in the future. However, strong business opportunities remain in different segments of the motorcycle industry due to transformations in the market.
Are motorcycles in China a means of transport, leisure or entertainment?
Motorcycles are generally used for two purposes: as a mean of transportation, and/or for leisure and entertainment. For transportation, the motorcycle market in China can be subdivided into two segments; road motorcycles and scooters. The demand for road motorcycles has declined heavily in the last years.
Motorcycles as means of transport
In 2014, sales of domestically produced motorcycles fell about 8.48% compared to the previous year. This decrease is attributed to two reasons. First, the living standards in rural areas are increasing in China. Motorcycles are normally multi-purpose vehicles in China. For example, in addition to personal transportation, they might also be used for cargo or as passenger vehicles. With improved living standards, motorcycles have been replaced by small cars and more affordable e-bikes and scooters.
The second reason for the sales decline is the limitations or outright bans set in many Chinese cities, as the government works to promote security and less pollution in cities. These bans are the reason scooters, the second biggest segment in the motorcycle market in China for transportation, are so popular and why the domestic market for scooters continues to grow. E-scooters in particular are being used by more and more people in the cities as a mean of transport, although the government is imposing more regulations on the use of lead-acid batteries. By 2018, the world annual sales of e-motorcycles is estimated to be approximately 18.7 million, with most being sold in China.
Electric-drive products are definitely the future trend in the motorcycle market in China. The launch of Wuyang-Honda electric motorcycles was a major cue to other electric two-wheeled manufacturers to begin their entrance into the market.
Motorcycles as means of leisure & entertainment
Sales for large displacement motorcycles (≥400cc) for the purpose of leisure and entertainment continues to grow. In 2014, domestic sales of large displacement motorcycles increased by 231.82%. With the transformation of the motorcycle market in China, market analysts see a future growth point in the motorcycle leisure and entertainment industry.
Chinese people are seeking more personalized lifestyles, tending to choose larger displacements, higher performance, more stylish designs and high-tech motorcycles as a leisure and entertainment tool. The demand for large displacement motorcycles will increase year after year. Domestic companies in this sector will have to pay more attention to this market segment, and invest in the research and development of large displacement motorcycles in order to launch more models.
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