Motor Industry News
August 2012 Used Bike Market Editorial
Most dealers expected this to be a pretty tough year in terms of trading. Even without the adverse economic climate, the number of high-profile events throughout the summer were always going to divert consumer attention away from our market. No one predicted the appalling weather conditions throughout June and July though. Only the bravest of souls ventured out on two wheels for fun during the monsoon and, with so few opportunities to use their bikes, the reasons to change have been dampened to say the least.
In reality, new bike sales have held up in terms of numbers, with the market still performing pretty much flat overall YTD. That is by no means the true picture though with all but Honda of the Japanese manufacturers posting any increase on last year’s sales. That is largely down to their depth in range in the lightweight sector rather than any other factor. Whilst the European manufacturers have been enjoying increased market share in recent years, even Triumph, perceived to be the cream of franchises at the moment, are more than 10% down on last year. Harley Davidson over 20% down, BMW around 2% down and Ducati only the odd per cent up. The real growth is still being driven by the low-cost lightweight sector and, whilst these offer good profit margins, the monetary transaction is not enough to keep a high profile modern dealership afloat.
More worryingly perhaps is the low number of used bike buyers. We always expected the used market to see shortages of stock to fulfil demand through the main part of this season. But, perhaps, largely due to the weather, showrooms have been pretty quiet over recent weeks and most agree that phones have been busier from people looking to sell rather than to buy.
As always the picture is mixed and some can report acceptable levels of business but for any one good story there are three or four bad. Consequently values have been adjusted down this month, with all agreeing that more stock is available to buy than retail. One trader admitted that for the first time in his memory he was unwilling to even bid on some bikes. In the past he would have bought anything with confidence. With limited trade opportunities and few retail customers it isn’t worth investing in any more stock.
Big engine bikes such as Hayabusa, ZZR1400 etc. are holding up well whilst Sports 600 models, particularly the late-plate higher-value end of the scale, are proving more difficult. Mid to low value - sub £4000 retail - price level is probably the strongest sector, although the old stalwarts such as Bandit 600/1200 are looking less desirable, probably due to the range of more exotic machinery available at the same kind of money.
A late burst of proper summer weather over the coming weeks would be a welcome relief, although it is probably already too late to catch up. It’s already looking like a tough year end. It’s not a particularly positive picture but it rarely is in this market. The best option is to keep plugging away and make the most of every opportunity that presents itself.
VIPDATA is part of CDL Vehicle Information Services Ltd (CDL VIS) the vehicle data arm of CDL Group Holdings Ltd, based in Stockport, Cheshire. www.cdl.co.uk
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