When it comes to personal rides, motorcycles are still a common choice for most people. It is fast, reliable and far cheaper than a car. From the Daimler Reitwagen in 1885 to modern days, motorcycles have seen significant development over the course of the last century.
There are currently over 200 million motorcycles in the world. They range from simple mopeds to high-end superbikes. Some even took motorcycles to luxury levels. Regardless of what type they are or how expensive they are, one thing is certain about motorcycles. They bring convenience and joy of riding unlike any other.
The number of motorcycles brands exceeds well over 1000 in the world. However, not all of them have achieved global recognition and love through generations. In this article, we take a look at 10 of the top motorcycle producers globally based on sales volume.
Top Motorcycle Producers Globally
To determine this list, the sales data of previous years as well as sales region has been taken into account. Note that this list doesn’t accrue brands that produce the highest number of motorcycles. Rather it focuses on the number of motorcycles sold in each market to determine the gross global sales.
Headquartered in the Minato City of Tokyo, Honda is one of the largest international automobile and motorcycle conglomerates in the world. The company was founded back in 1948 against the backdrop of World War II. Since its inception, the company made a name for itself thanks to the legendary Honda Cub bike.
Recently, the company has seen a slump in motorcycle sales. The company sold about 20.2 million units in 2019. However, the year-on-year sales declined for 2020 and 2021 with 19.3 million and 15.1 million unit sales respectively. The low sales are attributed to the pandemic as a global recession and economic downturn reduced the purchasing power of the people.
Honda operates in almost all the countries of the world. But India is its main market. Honda sold over 0.2 million units in India alone in 2021. Moving on from the cub, much of Honda’s legacy has stayed true to its scooter heritage.
While scooters are still one of their best-sold motorcycles, the company makes a range of bikes starting from Active to CB650R. The Honda Goldwing is an 1800 cc mega bike that has a considerable demand in different defense forces across the globe. With a global market share of almost one-third, Honda is the undisputed king of motorcycle producers in the world.
Founded in Shizuoka, Japan in 1955, the Yamaha was part of the Yamaha Corporation, a global conglomerate serving in different industries. However, since its separation from the parent company, Yamaha motors exclusively focused on making motorcycles, boats, and other motorized products.
The global sales of Yamaha have seen a downturn over the last decade. The last time the company broke the 5 million sales mark in a single fiscal year was in 2012. Since then, the company has had a downturn which was multiplied by the pandemic.
Before the pandemic, Yamaha sold around 4.6 million units of motorcycles across the globe. But the pandemic has seen Yamaha sell only 3.3 million units in 2020. Even though the company showed promise in the first quarter of 2021, it is nowhere near the pre-covid level.
Yamaha sells around 40% of its bikes in the ASEAN region which has been its main market since the 90s.
Yamaha has produced for all types of riders and bike bases. But the company had a distinct inclination to sports and naked sports bikes. Their MT-15, R15 V4, FZ are some of the best sellers in the global market. Yamaha currently has a global market share of 10.4%. However, the company aims to take a 5% increment by 2025.
The next one on the list is also a Japanese multinational corporation founded in 1909. The company had its roots in industrial loom but over the years it has transitioned into automobiles and motorcycle production. The combined automobile, including cars and bikes, puts Suzuki in the 11th position in the global market.
Suzuki has operations in 192 countries. This is the largest number operation-wise for any company. Suzuki held robust sales in 2012 with 2 million sales. However, the company had a negative downturn since then which saw the company fall to just 1.5 million sales in 2019.
On top of that, the pandemic also had a negative impact on sales in 2020. Sales were down to 1.7 million in 2020. But the company has shown steady growth in 2021. Within the first three quarters of 2021, the company was able to sell 1.14 million units which is an 11% increment over 2019.
Suzuki has been able to register a 28% growth in the ASEAN region, an important market for Japanese bikes.
The best seller bikes of Suzuki include Gixxer, Gixxer SF, Intruder, and the V-Strom. The global market share of Suzuki currently stands at 2.6%.
The Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. is another leading motorcycle producer from Japan. The company was founded in 1896 in Kobe, Japan. Since its inception, the company focused on producing heavy industrial machinery. The company is known globally for its motorcycles but that has always been a secondary product for the company.
Unlike others, Kawasaki has always focused on producing sports central bikes. Their flagship bike range, the Ninja is a line of hyper sports bikes. In addition to that, the company also makes a few crossovers and cruiser bikes. Due to its limited line, Kawasaki has never been a global leader in bike sales.
But the pandemic hit the company hard and sales dropped by 25% in its largest markets. The company is slated to have sold another 0.6 million bikes in 2021 indicating a pre-pandemic level recovery.
The Ninja ZX-10R, H2R, ZX-RR are some of their best seller bikes. The Philippines has been a key market for Kawasaki for a long time. The global market share of Kawasaki stands at 2.3%
Does the name sound new? Well, that is because the Motorrad is the motorcycle branch of BMW. The Motorrad is part of the corporate and brand development division of BMW and has been producing bikes since 1923.
BMW was able to register consecutive growth from 2015 to 2019. There has been over 10% year-on-year growth from 2015 until the pandemic time. Motorcycles sales reached an all-time high in 2019 with 175,162 units sold globally. In 2020, the sales stood at 169,272.
The strategic marketing and target set helped BMW combat the pandemic far better than other companies. The company was able to bounce back from the third quarter of 2020 and 2021 saw sales jump to 194,261 units which is more than the pre-pandemic level.
The growth in sales has been boosted by regional sales. 2021 saw an incredible growth of 50% in sales in China along with all the European countries seeing the varying level of growth.
BMW has focused on making sports and cruiser bikes thanks to their super-powerful engine. Their sports, spinner, roadster, and heritage models have all been a successful line for BMW. Currently, BMW holds a 3.6% share in global motorcycle sales.
Ducati Motor Holding
Founded in Bologna of Italy in 1926. Ducati is one of the leading producers of hyper bikes in the world. Ducati is part of automobile giant Lamborghini which is owned by Audi. Audi in turn is owned Volkswagen group.
In its initial days, Ducati used to make scooters and daily commuter bikes like the Brio 100 and Mach 1. But since the 80s, Ducati has moved into the production of more sports-centric bikes. The Ducati 899 Panigale is a testament to that achievement.
In 2019, Ducati delivered a total of 53,183 bikes to the customer. The pandemic didn’t seem to have any impact on Ducati sales in 2020 as the company reported a 25% increment in sales. The projected sales for 2021 stood at 57,000 bikes.
The growth of Ducati sales has been hugely contributed by the sales number in Western Europe and Great Britain. Both the regions saw an upward of 20% sales compared to the previous year.
However, Ducati is still struggling in the ASEAN market with repeated loss of sales.
Their Panigale is the most popular bike across the range. Other bikes include the Scrambler 800, Monster, and the Multistrada V2. With its increasing hyper sports bike-centric approach, Ducati has a global sales share of 1.1%.
Based in New Delhi, India, Hero MotoCorp is considered the largest producer of two-wheeler vehicles. This includes bicycles along with bikes. Hero MotoCorp was formerly a part shareholder with Honda. But the two decided to part ways and make independent sales in the Indian domestic and international market.
2019 marked the highest year-on-year sales for Hero. It registered a total of 7.8 million bike sales in both domestic and international markets. Due to the pandemic, there has been a slouch in sales with sales reaching 6.2 million in 2020 and 5.1 in 2021.
But the company is expected to make a steady recovery in 2022. The market capitalization of Hero stands at $7.9 billion which is mostly aggravated by the huge 37% market share in the Indian domestic market.
Some of the common Hero models include the Hunk, Glamour, Splendor, and Deluxe. The bikes are popular because of the incredible mileage they offer. With the high sales volume in the lower end bracket, Hero enjoys a 5.9% of global sales share.
Bajaj auto is the automotive part of the Bajaj group. The company is a leading producer of two-wheeler and three-wheeler for the Indian domestic market as well as international market.
The company currently holds the position of the third-largest producer of motorbikes in the world and the second-largest in India after Hero.
Due to growing economic conditions, the company reached an all-time high of 4 million unit sales in 2018. But due to the pandemic, the company faced a sales deficit and the sales amounted to 3.6 million in 2020.
However, 2021 showed signs of bouncing back with a 6.1% sales improvement by the third quarter. The company enjoyed a favorable outing in a foreign destination like Bangladesh and Nepal where it holds a significant presence. However, the Latin region has emerged as an effective alternative market with a 52% sales increment in Argentina and 29% in Peru.
Bajaj has a range of naked sports bikes including CT 100 Platina, Pulsar, Discover, and Avenger. All these bikes were able to capture the domestic and south Asian market because of their affordability and mileage. With its growing popularity, Bajaj now holds a 5.1% share of the total global motorcycle sales.
TVS Motor Company
Founded in 1978, TVS Motor Company is another proprietary Indian two-wheeler and three-wheeler producer based in Chennai. The company is the third-largest in India in the motorbike sector with an annual turnover of $2.7 billion. It also holds the place for the second-largest exporter of bikes with export relations in over 60 countries.
TVS has seen a steady flow of growth up until 2019. In 2019, the company reported a sales figure of 215,619 across the domestic and international markets. But the figure was short-lived as the pandemic hit in early 2020.
Some of the common TVS bikes include daily commuters like Apache, Jupiter, and Raider. These are street bikes with incredible mileage. The easy riding and mileage make TVS a perfect one for the domestic Indian market.
Like Bajaj, TVS has also ventured much into the Latin American territory with sales doubling over the years. The company currently holds a 3.1% global sales share of motorbikes.
Harley Davidson is one of the few true American motorcycle makers who perform on a global scale. The company was founded in Milwaukee in 1903 and has been the largest American two-wheeler producer globally.
The company sold a total of 218,273 bikes in 2019 which is one of the highest in recent years. However, there was a decline in sales in 2020 with a reported sale of 180,248. The company had an overall good year in 2021 which was substantially up from 2020. But it was not up to the mark of 2019 sales.
One of the reasons why Harley Davidson hasn’t made big in the global market is due to the price. The company exclusively focuses on sports and tourer and café racer bikes. Since the bikes are produced in the USA, the retail cost is much higher compared to the competitors.
Their Street and Road Glide along with the Street Bob are some of the more well-known bikes. Currently, Harley Davidson shares 4.4% of sales of the global retail share. Much of this share is attributed to the sales-based in USA and Canada.
Why are Japanese Motorcycles Popular?
If you’ve read this article carefully, you’ll notice that Japanese bikes are a global leader. And it’s not just limited to one company. The likes of Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki, and Yamaha make it a diverse range coming from a single country.
The localized manufacturers who increasingly compete with each other to assert global dominance are one of the key factors behind the growth and popularity of Japanese motorcycles. The companies are increasingly pushing for innovative technology and design.
Beyond the competition, the quality and reliability of Japanese bikes are some of the best in the world. A buyer can use a Japanese-made bike for years without having to worry about breaking it. The years of reputed service along with quality and value for money easily make Japanese bikes one of the best in the world.
To sum it up, Honda and Yamaha currently lead the charge in global motorcycle sales. Companies from India are also making a considerable amount in recent years. The likes of Hero, Bajaj, and TVS have combined quality with affordability for the sub-continent region. However, it is still a long shot to catch up with the Japanese manufacturers.
The global pandemic has harmed all of the manufacturers in the sector. However, the targeted market approach and economic rebound are forecasting a steady growth beyond 2022.