India slump dragged down global motorcycle sales in 2019

Sales of motorcycles dropped by 1.6 million units globally in 2019 but the onset of a coronavirus threatens to have a major impact in 2020

Vietnam motorcycling

A sharp decline of motorcycle purchases in the world’s largest market of India saw global sales of two-wheelers drop by 1.6 million in 2019, but it’s the very current bite of Coronavirus that could threaten a steeper drop in 2020 according to forecasts.

Indicating just how crucial a market India is to the fortunes of the motorcycle industry as a whole, though a number of key regions posted a decent rise in sales on the back of an already record 2018, India’s loss of 3.1 million sales alone in 2019 ripples far and wide.

Indeed, we have reported recently that Royal Enfield saw sales overall slide in 2019 despite showing impressive growth in every market save for its local one, but it wasn’t the only Indian brand to suffer with the likes of Suzuki, Bajaj, Hero and TVS all affected by the drop.

Even so, there are positives to take away from those 2019 figures, which totalled around 60 million globally.

China helped offset India’s loss by rising 1.3 million units (16.3 million), though India remains the most important market with 18.5 million units still being shifted. Indicating the sheer importance of the two-wheel market – figures which include 50cc scooters and over – in Asia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand and Pakistan follow as the most lucrative nations in terms of sales.

The only non-Asian nations in the top ten are Brazil and Mexico eighth and ninth, with Taiwan tenth, though you’re down to a relatively meagre 900,000 sales annually once you get to there. The USA is 11th on the global index, with Japan in 15th – after posting its worst sales in decades – and France Europe’s largest market in 17th overall.

Coronavirus to affect global motorcycle sales

We’re only two months into the year but there are fears February and especially March will reflect the true ramifications of the spread Covid-19 coronavirus.

Several factories in Asia have been shutting down in an effort to contain its spread, particularly in China where the outbreak started and has affected most people. While a clear problem in terms of local production, it is also creating issues around the world as it slows down parts constructions.

As India has shown, it would only take a relatively minor slump for Chinese markets to be seismically felt across the world, but the sheer global scale of the virus is likely to bite in all corners of the industry to the tune of potentially a loss of 10 million sales.