April 8, 2020

Motorcycle Market Trends in Japan: Summary of Results of JAMA’s Fiscal 2019 Survey

The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) is pleased to release the results of the survey it conducted in fiscal year 2019 (ended March 31, 2020) on motorcycle market trends in Japan. This survey is conducted by JAMA every other year to determine the profiles and use patterns of purchasers of new motorcycles as well as purchasing intention trends among current motorcycle owners, and thereby provide a basis for future demand projections.

In the fiscal 2019 survey, an adjunct “special topics” survey was also conducted to facilitate initiatives aimed at promoting future sales.

I. Main Survey: Principal Findings

  • Survey results confirmed a steady decline in motorcycle demand since fiscal year 2013.
  • Demand for motorcycles in fiscal year 2018 was down 23% from fiscal 2013. Since fiscal 2015, annual sales of motorcycles have remained below 400,000 units.
  • The number of motorcycles in private ownership in fiscal 2018 was down 9% from fiscal 2013. In particular, there was a significant decline in ownership of Class 1 motor-driven cycles (50 cc and under). On the other hand, ownership of motorcycles in the Class 2 motor-driven cycle and higher categories increased.
  • The percentage of motorcycle owners aged 30 or under dropped from 18% in the previous motorcycle market survey conducted in fiscal 2017 to 12%, while the percentage of motorcycle owners aged 70 or older rose, from 11% to 12%. As a result, the average age of motorcycle owners rose by two years, from 52.7 to 54.7 years.
  • The overall frequency of use fell from 3.9 days to 3.7 days per month. As a result, monthly travel distances dropped by 26km, from 265km to 239km.
  • Levels of satisfaction with motorcycle purchases was generally high; in particular, satisfaction with the sense of speed they provided significantly exceeded owners’ expectations.
  • A high percentage of survey respondents affirmed having experienced motorcycle touring; among those respondents, a strong intent was expressed to participate in multi-day tours. A high and growing number (compared to the last survey) of on-road motorcycle users affirmed their desire to experience circuit riding.
  • In fiscal 2013, the intent of survey respondents to continue motorcycle use stood at 88%; by fiscal 2019, this had fallen to 82%, underscoring the fact that although the percentage of respondents who intend to continue motorcycle use remains high, that share is nevertheless decreasing.

II. Adjunct “Special Topics” Survey: Principal Findings

1. Openness to motorcycle subscriptions

  • About 8% of respondents who purchased their motorcycle within the past year had used motorcycle rental services, and the number of respondents who had used motorcycle subscription services was extremely small. Survey responses indicated that motorcyclists viewed the use of rental motorcycles in a positive light, and that a certain level of demand could be expected for such rental services.

2. Discovering the benefits of motorcycle use for the general public

  • A majority of respondents affirmed that they viewed motorcycles as “a hobby or interest,” and that they wished to be viewed by others as “enjoying life.”
  • Among respondents who had seen their local motorcycle dealers go out of business, some elected to purchase parts and maintenance products from supply stores and online stores to undertake maintenance themselves, with the help of online videos. Such new purchasing and maintenance trends that bypass dealerships appear to be growing in popularity.

3. Appraisal of “ideal” versus “real-world” motorcycle dealerships

  • Respondents expressed their desire to see more comfortable spacing between display motorcycles at dealerships, and an environment that encouraged them to take their time and relax. Those responses confirmed that consumers desire improvements in in-store environments and motorcycle displays.
  • All respondents asserted that they patronized dealerships on the basis of the convenience of their location, and levels of satisfaction were linked to “the dealer’s dependability.” With regard to dependability, respondents valued dealers who responded as far as possible to customer requests for repairs and maintenance; who actively participated in local events; and who engaged in steady sales activities in the local community.

4. Motives for purchasing new motorcycles

  • The majority of respondents who purchased new motorcycles with larger displacements (i.e., engine capacity) had used their previous motorcycles for two years or less, a short period of ownership. The majority of respondents who purchased new motorcycles with similar displacements had used their previous motorcycles for 10 years or more, which suggests they had used their previous motorcycles until those machines were beyond repair. The majority of respondents who purchased new motorcycles with smaller displacements had used their previous motorcycles for three years or less, which suggests that motor vehicle inspections were the reason for the new purchases.

Complete survey results are posted online, in Japanese only, on JAMA’s website at http://www.jama.or.jp/lib/invest_analysis/two-wheeled.html.