Electric Motorcycles to be Big Seller in China

Sept. 29, 2010
By 2014 sales will reach 31 million units

Demand for motorcycles in China will increase 7.6% annually to 54.9 million units in 2014, according to the Beijing office of The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industry research firm.

Electric motorcycles are expected to surpass gas motorcycles to become the leading motorcycle type sold in China. These comparatively new products will account for over three-fourths of aggregate motorcycle market growth.

The market for electric motorcycles in China is expected to grow 11% per year through 2014 to 31.6 million units. Demand for these newer products will continue to expand at a rapid pace through the forecast period, as increasing numbers of urban dwellers turn to electric motorcycles for their transportation needs. Improvements in vehicle durability and in battery power and longevity have allowed electric motorcycles to meet an important need among urban dwellers seeking to upgrade from pedal bicycles but unable to afford automobiles.

Gas-powered internal combustion engine (ICE) motorcycles will also record solid growth, helping to strengthen China's position as by far the world's largest motorcycle market.

Sales of traditional gas motorcycles will increase 3.9% annually to 23.3 million units in 2014. Gains will be driven by increasing economic activity and rising personal income levels in the country's rural and semi-rural regions, which are and will remain the most important markets for these vehicles, according to the report. Government rebates for purchases of ICE motorcycles by rural residents as part of the "Automobiles and Motorcycles to the Countryside" program will also stimulate demand.

However, restrictions and even outright bans on ICE motorcycles in many Chinese cities will prevent sales from expanding at a faster pace. Cruisers are the most popular model type among Chinese consumers, representing 43% of gas motorcycle sales in 2009. However, their position in the ICE segment has been undermined in recent years by the diversification of motorcycle offerings in China. Going forward, trikes and sidecars will see demand expand at the fastest rate of any ICE motorcycle model type.

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