The statistics released by the General Statistics Office (GSO) recently can talk about the future of the market and the motorbike industry in Vietnam.
The motorbike market did not bear the hard pressure in 2011 like the automobile market, but it was unexpectedly gloomy. Right at the beginning of the year, motorbike manufacturers ran a lot of noisy marketing campaigns to launch a lot of new products. However, the demand still went weaker towards the end of the year.
As for import products, the year 2011 witnessed the disappearance of many brands. In 2010, Ducati, Kawasaki, CPI or Harley Davidson were once famous on the market. Meanwhile, in 2011, only Rebel USA was still familiar to people.
The weak demand on the domestic market could be seen in the low imports in 2011. According to the General Statistics Office, Vietnam imported 66,000 motorbikes worth 94 million dollars, a decrease of 38.9 percent in quantity and 27.8 percent in quality.
In the last month of 2011, only 3000 motorbikes in the form of complete built unit (CBU) were imported, worth five million dollars, a decrease of 1000 motorbikes in quantity and 1 million dollars in the import turnover.
As such, unlike previous years, when the demand always increased in the last months of the year, the import turnover of motorbikes in the last months of 2011 decreased sharply. This shows that the Vietnamese motorbike market has nearly become saturated.
It is understandable why the imports of CBU products decreased sharply when people have to face big economic difficulties, while imports have to compete with domestically made products.
2011 year seemed to be a busy year for domestic manufacturers. A lot of projects on newly established factories and expanded factories of big motorbike manufacturers such as Honda, Piaggio, Yamaha and Suzuki were announced in the year. The output of motorbikes has also been increasing.
According to GSO, the production index of Vietnam’s motorbike industry increased by 19.6 in 2011 in comparison with the previous year. Meanwhile, the consumption index also grew by 17.3 percent.
The two indexes show positive signs for the motorbike industry. Manufacturers believe in their bright future in Vietnam, which explains why they tried to expand their business scope in the country. Besides, analysts say that the domestic market still shows great potentials of the Vietnamese market which can serve as the production basis for export to the regional markets. Piaggio is a typical example.
However, experts have warned about the possible surplus in the near future.
Though both the output and the consumption increased in 2011 in comparison with the previous years, the big inventory volume shows the weak demand.
In 2011, the inventory index of the motorbike industry reached 41.7 percent over 2010, or double the consumption and production indexes. This shows that the purchasing power does not increase accordingly with the production growth rate. And if manufacturers do not push up export, the motorbike industry may enter a stagnant period.
Experts have also warned that the supply may far exceed the demand, since the market would reach the saturation point sooner than previous expected.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade once predicted that by 2020, Vietnam would have 33.5 million motorbikes by 2020, while the population reaches 99.6 million, which means that 2.97 people would use one motorbike. In Thailand, the current ratio is 2.9, and the market has become saturated.
Japanese Professor Kenichi Ohno said that when number of motorbikes in Vietnam reaches 30 million, the market would become saturated. This is expected to take place in 2017-2020.
Meanwhile, a survey by the Ministry of Transport said that by August 2011, the number of registered motorbikes had reached 33.4 million, which means that the market has saturated already.