QT Newsletter – State of the Union

Recently the President gave his Constitutionally-mandated State of the Union address. We’ll leave it to you to decide how useful it was, but in the meantime we thought we’d do our own little Motorcycling State of the Union. We will endeavor, however, to keep it completely free of political spin and self-serving commentary. So here are the facts:

Ladies and Gentlemen, the state of our union is strong! Yeah I know that’s what every Prez says, but in our case, things are seriously lookin’ up. The motorcycle industry, after several years of foundering in the wave of a painfully-slow economic recovery, has shown growth in all sectors.

Starting with HARLEY-DAVIDSON, who reported last week that unit sales increased by 5.9 percent worldwide and 5.8 percent in the United States. And in looking at the fourth quarter, the Motor Co. showed an 11.8 percent increase in domestic unit sales and a 10.9 percent bump in worldwide sales over the same period in 2010. It’s easy to show an increase in emerging foreign markets, but getting this kind of growth in U.S. sales is very good news for H-D and it’s dealerships. Dealers in the United States sold 23,753 new Harley-Davidson’s, to hit that 11.8 percent increase compared to 2010.

Right after Harley-Davidson posted, Polaris Industries announced its 4th quarter 2011 and full year numbers, and in it’s on-road/Victory Motorcycles category, they posted 4th quarter gains of a dramatic 69%, though that number encompasses more than just heavy cruisers.

TRIUMPH posted a 7% worldwide sales increase and a 15% sales increase in North America, and is one of just a handful of companies that showed significant gain in 2011 and the ONLY motorcycle company in the world to have shown gains every year for the past 5 years all the way thru the worldwide recession. Triumph also dramatically increased its budget for research and design resulting in the introduction of three new models this year alone.

Not only did DUCATI bump up its sales by a whopping 43%, it posted huge gains in all of its North American operations and regions. North America is now Ducati’s top market in the world for the first time ever! Announcing more good news, Ducati says its apparel line posted an even bigger gain of 50% for fiscal 2011. Their new Multistrada motorcycle was voted Best Cruiser of 2011 by three different sport bike magazines and its new Diavel model has also won awards in its category. Ducati’s North American Operations group is headquartered in Cupertino, California.

URAL sales increased 39% in the U.S. market, no small feat for this Russian-made low-priced motorcycle, which gets it’s name from the Ural Mountains. With U.S. operations based in Redmond, WA., this is a bare-bones, military-style bike with a cool sidecar rig. Unit sales are still very small in comparison, but if you want  different, this surely is.

Overall, the motorcycle market is looking much better, a far cry from where we were just 2 years ago. That said, the industry is a far cry from what it used to be say, 4 years ago. Whether we’ll get back to those heady days remains to be seen, but things out there are certainly improving.