Global motorcycle sales down 9 million units in 2020… but the recovery is surging

Motorcycle sales around the world collapsed by 27.9% - aka. 9,000,000 units - in the first eight months of 2020 to demonstrate the bite of COVID-19

Kawasaki Versys 650 GT

You needn’t be an industry expert to recognise the COVID-19 global pandemic crisis has had a major effect on the motorcycle industry, but the impact can be now be represented in one (large) number: 9,000,000.

That is how fewer motorcycles were sold in the first eight months (two-thirds) of 2020 around the world compared with the same period in 2019, when sales also took a seven figure slide year-on-year.

Staggered lockdown periods since March have pulled the bottom out of several industries (unless you happen to own Zoom, it seems) with movement limited and businesses forced to close, leading to month-on-month sales to slump by upwards of 90% in some nations.

That’s not to say an insignificant number of motorcycles, scooters and mopeds didn’t find new homes with 21.9 million being sold around the world up to the end of August. However, that is a huge 29.7% down on the same period in 2019, with the first four months accounting for a 42.2% slide.

However, the bounce back in more recent summer months have provided a welcome bounce back with August sales climbing 9% globally - the first increase since February - which by calculations could see the damage limited to between 10-15% annually by the time January 2021 rolls around.

Even so, that’s in no way guaranteed as nations begin to grapple with the effects of semi-lockdown brought on by a renewed growth in COVID-19 cases. Moreover, India - the world’s largest motorcycle market - is now considered the worst affected nation as of today and the effects on the motorcycle industry are represented its 37.4% slump thus far.

This compares with China - the source of the outbreak but a nation that is now coping with challenges better than most - only slipping 4.1% year-on-year now.

Even Europe is beginning to balance the sales sheets with a decline limited to a 4.7% after eight months, though the incoming winter period is set to see the burgeoning recovery surge ease.