Thursday, 19 April 2018

Comment by Editor, Robin Bradley

Promising start to the sales season as industry gears up for a joint INTERMOT and EICMA year

The early season registration numbers emerging from Europe’s major national trade associations are showing a (mostly) positive start to the year. It would appear that ACEM and others were right, and that the apparent decline in registrations seen in the statistical reports last year (after three years of growth on a Europe-wide basis) were wrong.

This year’s INTERMOT Custom Special is this drag style Yamaha XV 950 R customised in Germany by Marcus Walz

It is now perfectly apparent that the anomalies caused by the Euro 3/Euro 4 transition at the end of 2016 and in early 2017 had indeed distorted the picture. In reality, while 2017 may not have seen as much growth as the prior three years, certainly not in percentage terms, it did still see some modest low single digit increases in motorcycle (if not also small cc unit) sales, and demonstrated the rise of the lightweights and middleweights that is being seen as new generations of consumers fill the void created by the years of post-Lehman darkness.
The figures released so far aren’t fully reliable as an indicator for the year in full yet, as they are mostly based on generally and traditionally low January and February sales numbers, but it is a more positive start than the one we were looking at 12 months ago.
This year is that biennial delight of a year with both INTERMOT (Cologne, October 3-7) and EICMA (Milan, November 6-11) hanging over the market and impacting industry budgets and manufacturer new model launch cycles like a cloud. In the United States, AIMExpo is sandwiched in between the two European majors, this year in Las Vegas (October 11-14); see report in the ‘American Report’ elsewhere in this edition of IDN.
It is to be hoped, however, that this is a cloud with multiple silver linings, and that if the dealer attendance seen at January’s excellent Motorcycle Trade Expo in the UK is anything to go by, there will be plenty of well-motivated and well-funded dealers, as well as enthusiastic and growing visitor numbers, to make both shows viable for the exhibitor community.
The characteristics of difference between the two shows persist – with EICMA having an impressively high theoretical visitors number but only half of them, at best, are of riding age or current riders; whereas at INTERMOT it is clear from their attire and demeanour that nearly all of the perfectly respectable 200,000 or more visitors clearly are high mileage current riders.
EICMA perfectly reflects the demographics of the Italian motorcycle market in terms of scooters, “urban mobility”, northern Italian focus, race fans and so forth, whereas INTERMOT pulls visitors from further afield than simply the central Germany, greater Cologne area and features a higher displacement of a multi-bike owning and definitely more touring oriented and older, wealthier audience that befits a northern European show.
Therefore the shows don’t need to be seen as duplicatory - not entirely so at least. Each has its own fans and its detractors, and each has something to bring to the industry table, though many still regret that ANCMA, the Italian motorcycle trade association that organises EICMA, insists on persisting with its still controversial annual frequency.
The massive change in management culture of a few years ago has altered the international perception of EICMA, and not for the better. Communications continue to be an Achilles heel - so far this year it has been radio silence from Milan where show news is concerned, whereas Koelnmesse has been releasing a steady stream of news about new initiatives and plans for INTERMOT, and has been conspicuously higher profile in its general promotion of the event and its engagement with the industry that the show is a part of. The residual effect is one of leaving a feeling that whereas EICMA exploits the dealer and vendor community, INTERMOT does as much as it can to be seen to be trying to serve it.
That stream of news from INTERMOT has included the announcement that the show is to host the first European Stunt Championship Finale - the 50 best stunt riders from 15 nations are expected to fight for the European stunt riding crown over the three-day competition on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Koelnmesse says that it has already had booth reservations from some 400 exhibitors (that’s individual exhibiting companies, not vendors and brands combined) from more than 30 countries and say they anticipate filling some 100,000 square metres of exhibition space and offering around 60,000 square metres of outdoor area for test rides, races (including Sprint races) and demonstrations, including the chance to try out E-bikes.
Both shows boast impressive international trade visitor credentials, with an estimated 59,000 trade visitors from approximately 100 countries at INTERMOT in 2016.
IDN will again be hosting the INTERMOT trade visitor ‘International Night’ networking reception (Wednesday October 3), and Hall 10 is again the venue for the fast growing and now further expanded INTERMOT ‘Customized’ “Show-within-a-Show” concept.
Centrepiece of Hall 10 will again be the IDN sister magazine AMD (American Motorcycle Dealer) 13th World Championship of Custom Bike Building - the fourth time the ‘AMD’ has been staged in Europe after being in the USA since it started in 2004 and the third time at INTERMOT.
With six months to go, there are already some 50 plus world class customs registered to compete for the custom motorcycle’s industry’s ultimate accolade, with custom motorcycle engineers from some 14 countries, including from the United States, Russia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Mexico and the first ever competitors from the fast-evolving Indian market.