MIC Powersports Report Shows Sales Increased Despite A Chaotic Year
Despite Covid, contentious elections, and civil unrest (or maybe because of these), the powersports industry actually experienced incredible gains in 2020, across moto-genres. The Motorcycle Industry Council recently published a report on the previous year, detailing the sales successes across 2020. It would appear hopping on a motorcycle, trike, or four wheeler became a preferred mode and method of social distancing and escaping the endless stream of negativity swirling around us.
As the report outlines, new-model sales increased 18.4 percent in 2020, with motorcycle and scooter sales specifically up by 11.4 percent, according to the Retail Sales Report published by the Council. “Overall, the industry had a good year under difficult circumstances,” said Erik Pritchard, president and CEO of the MIC. “The COVID-19 pandemic forced all of us to be nimble and to make the changes we needed to survive. In the end, many in the industry saw strong growth, and now our opportunity is to keep all of these new riders riding and to inspire even more people to join us on two, three, and four wheels.”
Sales of road bikes, which include scooters, ADVs and dual-sports, tracked steady compared with 2019, while interest in off-road bikes spiked, with sales up a whopping 46.5 percent year-over-year. Off-road motorcycles include mini-bikes, dirt bikes, trail and trial bikes, competition motorcycles, and other motorized two-wheelers that aren’t street legal for public roads. Sales of ATVs (and side-by-sides, assuming) also jumped, rising a strong 33.8 percent over 2019.
“We are happy to see that more people are getting the chance to enjoy the outdoors and find new adventures with motorcycles,” Pritchard stated. “As many riders know, motorcycles and scooters are not only fun, efficient ways to commute, they open up many recreational opportunities.” And as we riders also know, motorcycling provides a cathartic, restorative “wind therapy” found few other places in life. See our recent “Revisiting Why We Ride” for more moto-inspiration.
The MV Agusta Superveloce, unveiled during a banner year for the Italian brand.
In talking with several industry insiders after the new year, we didn’t find the report by the MIC very surprising. Our industry friends were all touting how well sales were in 2020, a year many believe will go down as among the most difficult in recent memory. “Our retail sales were up about +75 percent over 2019,” Doug McCloskey, CEO of MV Agusta USA told me. “At year-end we were running about +150 percent with new models being delivered. Also importantly, the factory purchased the USA subsidiary and rebuilt the dealer network and business infrastructure.”
Rod Lopusnak, the GM of Triumph Motorcycles America told me, “2020 was an incredible roller-coaster for our industry. It started strong, then Covid hit in March. The immediate question for all of us was, ‘Is anyone going to buy a motorcycle during a pandemic?’ We all learned that the answer was yes! It is simply an amazing testament to the resilience and determination of our incredible dealer network to keep their businesses open as much as allowable, to serve our mutual customers, and to do everything possible to maintain the sales of Triumph Motorcycles. That effort allowed Triumph enjoyed the highest retail in company history over the past six months.”
I spoke with Breeann Poland, the Marketing Director for Royal Enfield USA and leader in their “Build. Train. Race.” Program, who shared, “We had tremendous growth in sales for calendar year 2020. The INT 650 was the top seller in the North America market. Even with delays in shipments from India due to Covid, we were able to deliver motorcycles to our dealers.”
“We crushed it in 2020, all around.”
Even at the local dealership level, 2020 sales were brisk, almost too brisk, according to Barry Brugh, Director of Sales and Inventory at Cycle World of Athens, Georgia, a multi-brand establishment with a large footprint in the Southeast United States. “2020 was among the largest sales years in our history, at least in the decades I’ve been here,” Barry told me. “Motorcycles sold well, especially dirt bikes, but what knocked it out of the park for us was ATVs and Side-By-Sides. We crushed it in 2020, all around. Our only problem was, we were selling machines so fast, the supply chain from factories couldn’t keep up, and we were running low on inventory quite often.”
So many of us in the motorcycling lifestyle and industry have been lamenting the decline in interest of our sport across the past decade or so, feeling like future generations would prefer Uber-like services, rapid transit and driverless vehicles to learning how to ride. And yet, oddly enough, it could be that something as terrible as a world-wide pandemic might have actually kick-started a renewed interest in motorcycling, among all generations, as a way to escape the confines, flee the isolation, and breathe the free air again. Riding motorcycles really is the perfect “social distancing” activity, and we hope millions more around the world will find the happiness and satisfaction we enjoy in riding.
The road ahead looks wide and bright.