Becoming a World Champion Doesn’t Guarantee Motorcycle Sales Can Be Sold


Suzuki is rumored to be withdrawing from MotoGP at the end of this season, less than two years after they became world champions. Reportedly financial conditions are the cause of Suzuki leaving. Failed to sell?

Indeed, until now there has been no confirmation from Suzuki regarding the decision to withdraw at the end of the 2022 season. However, these rumors have already circulated widely, some even believe that they are no longer just rumors.

Suzuki’s decision to withdraw is of course surprising. It’s not just that two seasons ago they became world champions, the performances of the duo riders so far this season have not been bad.

MotoGP columnist and reporter Simon Patterson, in his article in The Race, said that there is a gap between the success of becoming a MotoGP world champion with marketing strategies and sales results around the world.

About 20 years ago, the success of becoming a MotoGP world champion would be directly proportional to the sale of high-performance motorcycles, especially in Europe and North America. There is even a term ‘win on Sunday, sell on Monday’ (win on Sunday, sell on Monday).

LAGOA, ALGARVE, PORTUGAL - APRIL 23: Alex Rins of Spain and Team Suzuki ECSTAR rounds the bend during the MotoGP Of Portugal - Qualifying at Autodromo do Algarve on April 23, 2022 in Lagoa, Algarve, Portugal.  (Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)Alex Rins riding a Suzuki (Photo: Getty Images/Mirco Lazzari gp)

However, in the last two decades sales of high-performance motorcycles have decreased, starting from Japan and Europe. In addition, the market is also experiencing changes in interest, where adventure motorbikes are now more popular and more in demand.

“Those days are gone, where the Honda Fireblades and Suzuki GSX-Rs were the best-selling motorcycles in the UK, for example. They have long been taken over by touring bikes like the BMW GS,” wrote Simon Petterson.

Although the market has begun to shift, Suzuki still believes that performance on the track will be directly proportional to sales. In the 2021 annual report for Europe and North America, Suzuki still mentions that the high-performance motorcycle market will be able to be developed along with the success of their racing team.

Southeast Asia and Indonesia as New Big Motorcycle Markets

Simon Petterson continued, there is actually a relationship between performance on the track and sales. But the market is no longer in Europe and North America, but in Southeast Asia. Japanese manufacturers are now making Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia, their main market. And the big sales figures are proof of that.

Even in the midst of a pandemic, Petterson said motorcycle sales in Indonesia would still reach 5 million in 2021. “Honda and Yamaha sales in Indonesia reached 3,928,788 and 1,063,866, respectively.”

(L to R) Team Suzuki Ecstars Spanish rider Joan Mir and Team Suzuki Ecstars Spanish rider Alex Rins compete during the 2nd day of free practice session for the Indonesian Grand Prix Moto3 race at the Mandalika International Circuit at Kuta Mandalika, in Central Lombok on March 19, 2022. (Photo by BAY ISMOYO / AFP)Joan Mir and Alex Rins Photo: AFP/BAY ISMOYO

In contrast to Europe and North America, which are dominated by large-engined motorcycles, in Southeast Asia it is precisely small-engine motorcycles that dominate. In the situation of becoming a MotoGP world champion, Suzuki called Petterson could not use it to increase sales.

Suzuki, still written by Petterson, has never brought its riders to Indonesia for promotional purposes. Or launch in Indonesia. Even though (before the pandemic) Honda and Yamaha often did this and it was proven that they received great appreciation from motorcycle fans in Indonesia.

“In an era where success in the racing world no longer makes sales of 1000cc motorcycles in Europe but turns into selling millions of 150cc commuter motorcycles in the Asian market, Suzuki seems to have missed this trend. They are lagging behind their rivals, and losing millions of Yen in sales that could actually be invested in racing,” wrote Petterson.

Although it was reported that Suzuki’s decision to withdraw from MotoGP was based on economic factors, Petterson said that Suzuki was not in danger of going bankrupt at all. They still have a very big market in India.

In India, total motorcycle sales in 2021 are said to reach 15 million.

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