Ducati sales stutter in Europe as Honda, BMW, Kawasaki boom

Big up for Honda, plateau for Ducati and plummet for Harley-Davidson in a European market that is otherwise booming. We crunch the big brand numbers

Ducati Panigale V4 25°Anniversario 916

Earlier this month Visordown reported on a positive first half to 2019 in terms of motorcycle sales in Europe, with big brands and the electric motorbike movement spurring on growth of 9 per cent across the industry.

However, it’s not all good news for some historic brands with only minor gains from Triumph, flatlines for Ducati and – as we have reported before – a worrying drop for Harley-Davidson.

We delve into the sales figures to pull out the headlines…

Ducati turning attentions to 2020 amid 2019 dip

Much like its efforts on track, Ducati’s motorcycle sales are heading for a solid, but unspectacular season with the buzz from the Panigale V4 launch settling as the firm gears up for the next generation of models using the same unit.

Indeed, while Ducati stayed fairly level in Europe, it suffered a small but stinging downturn of 0.6% globally. Asian and Latin American markets suffered a sizeable slip to drag the brand down overall, a worrying trend for Ducati given it is in these areas it has invested more recently. 

New models are on the horizon as previewed by numerous spy shots in recent months, but these are unlikely to make an impact until 2020 when Ducati will know more about its market position. 

In the meantime, Ducati – like Andrea Dovizioso and Alvaro Bautista in MotoGP and WorldSBK – will need to ride out the next few months and turn focus to 2020, relying on minor updates like new colours (Monster 1200 S) and limited editions (Ducati Panigale 916 ‘Foggy’) in the interim to drive sales.

Volume manufacturers up as premium brands stutter

As well as Ducati [above] and Harley-Davidson [below], Triumph endured a somewhat disappointing first half to the year with a modest 3.4% growth in a period that saw a number of important launches and the start of its global promotion exercise of supplying engines in the MotoGP-supporting Moto2 class.

By contrast, the more ‘mainstream’ volume manufacturers soaked up a lot of the sales with Honda consolidating its status as Europe (and the world’s) largest two-wheel manufacturer with 13.4% jump after shifting 134,804 machines.

Japanese counterpart Yamaha, meanwhile, is coming under pressure from Piaggio (Aprilia, Moto Guzzi et al) after only posting 3.3% gains, with 98,998 motorcycles sold compared with the Italian group’s 4.5% gains on 84,610.

BMW, Kawasaki and KTM follow up with very positive figures too, growing their sales during H1 of 2019. The former added another 14.8% sales to its tally, while Kawasaki jumped 8.4% and KTM enjoyed a 7.1% surge.

Right time, right place for Harley-Davidson LiveWire?

Harley-Davidson’s troubles have been well documented by us (even this week) already but these figures – a hefty of 9.3% plummet against an otherwise growing market - certainly put its issues into perspective.

The shining light in its future appears to be the LiveWire, which comes as the footprint of e-motorcycles expands across a more eco-conscious European market. E-motorbikes made up a small but significantly increased market share (47% increase) during the first half of 2019. Though accounting for less than 5% of the market for now, sales are tipped to grow with each quarter now.

However, with most of these models being registered as small displacement scooter models, the LiveWire with its volume aspirations wearing a premium price tag – already identified as the biggest deterrent to purchasing one – means it could grab more headlines than sales for coming into the market much earlier than its contemporaries.

UK market steady as European motorcycle sales surge

Whilst the motorcycle industry enjoyed a strong start to 2019 in Europe, the UK registereda smaller growth than 36 other European countries, growing 3.2% against wider continental growth of 9%.

France remains the largest market with a 20% jump in sales, followed by Italy (+6.4%), Germany (9.7%) and Spain (13.3%). UK is the sixth largest market for motorcycles after Turkey.