Taiwan March. Despite Gogoro is booming, the domestic market is losing sharply

Taiwan Motorcycles Market kept falling during the first quarter 2019, despite the huge increase reported by the e-scooter segment, with the growth of the new star Gogoro. Total domestic market is reported at 193.645 units, down a huge 18.1%, with Yamaha losing more than any other.


2019 Market Trend 

Following the already negative score reported in the 2018, the negative trend in the domestic Taiwanese two-wheeler market did not changed and the first quarter data reported  a deep sales lost, with the industry hit by the sharp reduction of internal consumption, indirectly hit by reduction of global international affairs, created by the commercial war in place between US and China.

According to data released by the Taiwanese Minister of Transportation & Logistic, in January 2019 new motorcycles/scooters sales have been 70.133 (-1.2%) before to fall down in February, with 51.565 sales (-27.6%) and in March with 71.947 sales (-23.6%).

Year to date February figures were  193.645, down a huge 18.1%.

Of course, this trend has a direct impact on financial performance of the two market leaders, Kymco and Sym. So far this year they have lost respectively 19.6% and 7.5%. However, the main fall was reported by the Japanese Yahama, down an impressive 42.9%. 

While traditional combustion engines segment is falling, electric vehicles (100% scooter) are booming with the local brand, Gogoro, jumped in fourth place with 23.140 sales (+30%) with data still preliminary (could be higher).


Economic Environment

Taiwanese economy appears set for another slowdown in the first quarter of this year, after growth decelerated noticeably in the fourth quarter of last year. The manufacturing PMI fell to the lowest level in three-and-a-half years in February, indicating a quickening contraction in the goods-producing sector.

The deterioration in February came on the back of falling demand in key export markets such as mainland China and Hong Kong. This was corroborated by separate customs data, which showed merchandise exports fell at the fastest pace in three years in February.

With the persistent U.S.-China trade spat, an ongoing mainland slowdown and rising cross-strait tensions, the economic outlook appears less bright this year compared to last year. That said, fiscal stimulus in the form of a large infrastructure investment plan should support domestic momentum in the coming months.


Market Heritage

Taiwan is the home-base for well-known global motorcycles companies, like Kymco and Sym and is one of the major motorcycles and scooter producer in the World. However, the domestic market is even one of the Top 10 largest worldwide and the motorcycles are a key device for individual mobility.

The development of the market started already in the ’80 of last century, but the key factor for the industry development was the joining of WTO agreement in the 2002, which pushed the industry to improve standards to match requirements of European and American markets and to allow at the local producer to defend their domestic positions against the arriving importers.

Indeed, an almost favorable legislation has limited the distribution of large size motorcycles and so far the market is dominated by local producers, with Yamaha and Suzuki producing in the country.

Interesting to note as the global leader, Honda, is not producing locally limiting their activity to the distribution of large motorcycles. Indeed, Honda had begun local production of small-sized motorcycles in 1961, mainly 125 cc-class models, in the form of a technology licensing agreement with a local company (under a technical collaboration agreement) and continued until 2003, when has closed operations.


Recent Market Trend

The domestic Taiwanese motorcycles industry is one of the healthiest in the World. The first time the industry hit the half a million units milestone in a calendar year was in the 2014, but keeping to grow the domestic market reached the all time record in the 2017 with sales not far from the 1 million units milestone.

According to data released by the Taiwanese Manufacturers Association, in the 2018 the market pushed the brakes and sales declined at 756.170 units, which is the second highest level ever. 

Two Taiwanese brands, Kymco and SYM are among the top global producers of scooter exporting all over and – of course – they play the rule of leaders in the home-base country. However, while SYM is the biggest in terms of export, Kymco is the local leader, with 2018 sales at 302.306 units.

The new brand Gogoro, producing advanced e-scooter, is booming, with a 2018 record of 71.800 sales (+138%).


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