China Motorcycles sales dropped 58% in the first quarter 2020
Chinese Motorcycles Market lost 58% in the first quarter of the 2020 with a negative peak in February, when sales dropped 85%. While in the next quarters the year-on-year lost will mitigate, the full year 2020 will be the worst in the decade with sales fallen down 26.5%. However, in the 2021 the market will recover the most of volume and the pre-crisis level will be achieved back in 2022.
2020 Motorcycles Market Data & Outlook
The Chinese motorcycles market was recovering after the shock related to the introduction of new standards for the e-bike (see below). Unfortunately, the collateral effects of the Covid19 development has interrupted the growth and the industry is reported with a first quarter 2020 heavily negative.
Indeed almost all the country was in shutdown in the entire month of February and the re-opening in March was gradual. Thousand od motorcycles dealership has been closed for over 75 days and all plants were closed. Just in early April the economic activities are near the normality, with several limitations post in place to avoid the resurgence of the virus.
New two and three wheeler sales dropped near 85% in February and 81% in March with first quarter sales at 1.43 million units, down 58%. During the second quarter the market will recovery, reducing progressively the year-on-year lost but before the 2021 we do not foresee any positive month, with a full year 2020 sales projected at 12.37 million units, down 26.5%.
In the 2019 the motorcycles sales grew up 5%
Chinese Motorcycles Market is not more the locomotive of the global industry since the 2015 government decision to ban motorcycles from urban center aiming reducing the pollution.
Following the 2018 fall, when the market landed at 15.5 million units, over 7 million below the global top market, India, in the 2019 the Chinese two-wheelers industry have lost sales up to May before to re-start growing in the last seven months of the year, ending with 16.4 million sales (including motorcycles and commercial tricycles), up 5.5%.
Establishing new e-bike standards
China, like many other countries, is seeing a surge in the use of e-bikes – some estimates indicate that there are 200 million such vehicles in use nationally, three million of which can be found in Beijing. As the nature of e-bikes has evolved, the existing standards established in 1999 are no longer relevant and as a result, e-bikes sold and used in China are not standardized.
Without an appropriate standard, many vehicles are being manufactured and sold as ‘e-bikes’ when they are essentially motorcycles that are capable of going 40 km/h or faster. However, they are all treated as bicycles and thus helmet requirements and speed limits are not imposed. As such, they use bike lanes and footpaths designed for and used by non-motorised users.
In May 2018 a new standard was issued aiming to improve the regulation of e-bikes and putting an end to the practice of motorcycles passing for e-bikes. This standard is being phased in commencing in April 2019). Any vehicle that meets the new standard (which is aligned with international practice with a speed limit of 25 km/h) will be considered a bicycle and not subject to registration, licensing or helmet requirements.
Those e-bikes not meeting that standard will be treated as motorcycles and subject to helmet laws and licensing requirements. As the majority of e-bikes in circulation are likely to be non-standard, this standard closes a loophole that allowed millions of motorcycle riders to not wear a helmet.
Domestic market heritage
China’s motorcycle industry claims to have developed the largest motorcycle production center in the world. The industry is centered on three regions — Guangdong and Zhejiang provinces and Chongqing city in the Chongqing municipality.
China’s domestic motorcycle sales reached the all time record in the 2014 with 26.9 million sales.
During the 2015 the Chinese Government has taken the dramatic and unbelievable decision to ban motorcycles in urban centre (why not cars?) causing at the industry the deepest fall ever reported in the motorcycles world industry, when in the 2016 the market fell down at 16.8 million. The government has explained the decision aiming to cut down urban pollution, imploring people to use public transportation. The reason given behind this is that most Chinese motorcycles are two strokes, and these have much higher exhaust emissions than a four-stroke powered motorcycle.
In the 2017 there was a little recovery when the market was up 2% at 17.1 million, but in the 2018 the commercial battle between US and China has reduced the domestic demand for consumer goods and the 2-wheeler sector was hit again. The year ended with 15.5 million vehicles sold, losing 9.1% from the previous year.
Actually the Chinese market is the second largest in the World after being overtaken in the 2016 by India and now stands in second place with a growing gap towards the leader and ahead of Indonesia and Vietnam. Actually China represents 24.9% of global sales.