In the last
quarter of the previous century a vehicle called a motorcycle has changed itself
significantly. At the end of the 19th century, when the automotive industry was
born, a motorcycle was the simplest vehicle helping people in moving from place
to place. For mankind it was an object that shortened the time of the journey,
as far as increased the speed of travelling. In the times, when cars were not
within average people's reach, manufacturers like FN, Scott, Indian, NSU and BSA
fulfilled dreams of adventure and travel for the masses.
For decades, a motorcycle was technically upgraded and became the most popular
means of transport world-wide. New phenomenons connected with motorcycles sprung
up like mushrooms. Motorcycle racing, motorcycle tourism and customising were
among many others activities more or less connected with motorcycles. From the
early eighties a car had begun to squeeze out the motorcycle from the position
of the most popular means of transportation in the household. Modern motorcycles
are surely far away from being simple and cheap. In different parts of the world
motorcycles and cars are at a comparable, technologically advanced level. Such a
situation caused cars to become a more and more popular means of transportation.
A motorcycle has been changed into a special vehicle that meets different
requirements of its users. The process of changing the role of a motorcycle in
modern transport is very slow but noticeable. One of the yardsticks of that
process is growing number of sport disciplines in which motorcycles take part.
Their variety has led to create such extreme sports like aerial stunts, beating
records riding on the rear or the front wheel only.
motorcycle industry dates back into late twenties of 20th century. The first
mass-produced Polish motorcycle was the
which was manufactured 1929 - 1932. Due to the economical difficulties of the
country, the production did not exceed a few dozen. The best-known motorcycle
made in Poland was the CWS. Its name comes from the name of the producer
"Centralne Warsztaty Samochodowe". There were two versions produced,
following the Harley Davidson and Indian construction examples. Up to today
these models are associated with their market names Sokół 600 and
Sokół 1000. Apart from Sokół Polish manufacturers produced such
motorcycles as Perkun, Tornedo, SHL, Wul Gum, Moj, Junak, Komar, Osa and
In the early
seventies the number of registered motorcycles in Poland overwhelmed the number
of registered cars. In those days Polish roads were full of motorcycles of more
than one million. During the following decades, Polish cars made in Warsaw and
in Bielsko Biała, became more and more popular. Simultaneously, production of
motorcycles, which motorised Poland a few decades earlier
had been declining steadily. In 1985 a factory in ¦widnik shut down its
activity, thereby ending the history of Polish motorcycle industry.
1980s, a few Polish activists have tried to revive national motorcycle industry.
Unfortunately, all without any success. Among these unsuccessful projects were
- a moped assembled in Nowa Dęba
exists on the Polish market only as a label logo stuck on products from Far East
which is attempting to be re-launched by an enthusiast, Mr
Table 1. Number of motorcycles manufactured in Poland in years 1980 - 1989
Source: Central Statistical Office, Statistical Yearbooks of Poland 1985, 1990.
Table 2. Number of mopeds manufactured in Poland in years 1980 - 1999
Statistical Office, Statistical Yearbooks of Poland
1985, 1990, 1994, 1997, 2000, 2001 and 2002.
Statistical Office's survey shows, that only 4% of Polish households possess a
single-track vehicle (motorcycles, mopeds and scooters). From the beginning of
the 1980's until 2001 the average number of motorcycles per household in Poland
has decreased regularly. Among many different types of households, still the
greatest amount of motorcycles is in the possession of farming households. This
indicates that Polish statistics still calculate motorcycles which were popular
in the communist times. Certainly many of them exist only in the statistics, not
withdrawn from the registration offices.
Table 3. Number of motorcycles and mopeds registered in Poland in years 1980
Source: Central Statistical Office, Statistical Yearbooks of Poland,Warsaw 1985, 1990, 1997, 2000, 2002; Central Statistical Office, Little
Statistical Yearbooks of Poland,Warsaw 2002, 2003.
seems quite easy to explain the trend shown in the table 3. Poland has not
manufactured any motorcycles since 1985. The only available single-track
vehicles have come from Japan, USA or Western Europe. However, products from the
Soviet Block (e.g. Ural, Dniepr) have found many riders, who
decided to travel eastwards to buy cheap, long lasting, soviet boxer
motorcycles. Nevertheless, internal supply has shrunk completely and the volume
of registered motorcycles simultaneously started to shrink as well. Moreover,
border taxes effectively discouraged potential buyers from going West to buy a
Since then Poland has changed radically in terms of politics as well as
economics. Thanks to the market economy, the average affluence of the society
has risen noticeably. That led to the initiation of new style of Polish
motorcycle market. At the very beginning, there were only a few dealers selling
Japanese and German products. Currently, the motorcycle market in Poland is a
fast growing, significant branch having its own fair and exhibitions.
Additionally the number of entities that sell and repair motorcycles oscillate
about 100 in the scale of the whole country.
Chart 1. Number of motorcycles and mopeds registered in Poland in 1980 - 1998
Source: Self study at the base of table 3.
Year 2002 was the first time in 20 years, when the number of registered
motorcycles and mopeds has risen. Increasing popularity of motorcycles is being
recorded from 2000. Data describing 2003 will be available in August. This
positive trend is caused due to the few factors worth mentioning. First, methods
of spending free time in Poland expanded into the more sophisticated ones. Among
them, we can find riding a motorbike as a sport activity or as a tourism. Second
is the scale of traffic congestion. Huge traffic jams in big cities, directed
drivers' attention to more flexible means of transport. Every car driver sees
motorcycles and scooters push their way through the traffic jams. This makes
some to change to a bicycle or a scooter, or a motorcycle. Nowadays, year by
year, scooters dealers beat records of sales. One point of sale in Warsaw, sold
about 500 scooters in the first eight months of 2003. Such a number seems
magnificent, knowing that the level of sales ten years earlier was at about 1500
items all of Poland. Perceiving the motorcycle
owner as a person of a higher material status also causes popularity of
motorcycles. The motorcycle is seen as a luxury rather than an item for everyday
use. Such behaviour of Polish customers affects most expensive models only. Some
of them treat a motorcycle like an investment, same as buying work of art or
jewellery. This is justified by the fact that Polish chains of Harley-Davidson
retailers have the biggest share in sales of the most expensive, Heritage
Softail and Road King models.
motorcycle market is still developing. Thanks to the small size and developing
stage, it does not follow slumps or booms on the automotive market. When the
German or American automotive market suffers, the volume of sales of cars and
motorcycles goes down together. The Polish motorcycle market has nothing in
common with Polish car market, which is one of the biggest in Europe. In 2002
and 2003 Poland was at the 8-th place in Europe in the list of best car sellers.
There were 358 432 cars sold in 2002 and 308 294 in 2003. Market leader is Fiat
with 15% market share. A single model of Fiat Panda (small car intended for
cities) was sold in 12 844 pieces during the first four month of its sale. On
the other hand, a Pole who buys a brand new motorcycle, is a well earning person
in his/her forties. Only after building a house, buying a car and bringing up
children, a Pole can decide to fulfil his/her dreams from childhood - a
motorcycle. Polish society still has a very negative stereotype of
motorcyclists, due to repeating stories of aggressive hooligans who devastate
public order. Nevertheless, well-educated and well earning people usually hide
behind helmet's visors. They are also the core of the Polish motorcycle market.
motorcycle market does not copy models of Western European markets as for the
best sellers of the season. In the EU, there is increasing popularity of classic
construction motorcycles, called naked bikes. They are very strong, fast and
deprived of windshields and plastic parts of the body. In Poland, on the other
hand, chopper and cruiser-style motorcycles still reign. Every make has its
pillar model that holds the company on its place of the market. Using a BCG
matrix's synonym such models are called cows
. Such cows
business units that have a large market share in a mature, slow growing
require little investment and generate cash that can be
used to invest in other business units. In the Polish market, particular
importers also have their cows
. Most buyers are focused on these models.
For Mitsui Motor Polska, a Yamaha importer, the cow
is Drag Star 650 as
well as 1100. However, the biggest increase in sales in 2002 was recorded for
the R1 and R6, which are super sport motorcycles. Suzuki Motor Poland also has
its market pillars. The VL 800 Intruder LC Volusia and the GSX 1300 R Hayabusa
are the most popular. Similar to Yamaha, Suzuki also expands on the market due
to the cruiser motorcycle and the sport one (R1). Despite Hayabusa represents
sport-touring models, as the fastest mass-produced motorcycle is embodied in
Poland with sport. Moreover, Suzuki Motor Poland highlights the considerable
market share made by scooters.
Table 4. Number of brand new motorcycles and mopeds sold in Poland in years 1993
- 2002 (pcs.).
|Years||1993 - 1996
|* Due to the lack of official information from Motopol (Honda, Ducati and KTM importer) sale level of these models was estimated.|
Rzeczpospolita 28.12.1998; Motocykl 01/2001; Motocykl 03/2002;
Motor Rynek 22/2000; Motocykle ¦wiata 2003, and 2004 year's
issue, Wasaw 2003 and 2004; Motocykle Katalog 2002, year's issue, Wrocław
2002, own research.
from table 4, it is worth noting that more than 50% of the above numbers are
vehicles with engines less than 50 ccm. Thanks to the low prices of scooters,
these little two wheelers are the most available to young Poles. The aspect of
age is very important while talking about popularity of particular models and
types of motorcycles. First driving license for small motorcycles can have a
Pole, who are 16 years old or more. Apart from that, a scooter or any other two
wheeler up to 50 ccm, can be ridden without a license by an adult (18 years old
or more). Thanks to such legislation everything necessary to undertake a ride on
a two wheeler, is minimized.
Chart 2. Number
of brand new motorcycles and mopeds sold in Poland in years 1993 - 2002 (pcs.).
Source: Table 4
confirms statements made by the Polish biggest motorcycle importers about trend
on the market.
Mentioned trend formula y=1250,8x - 474,18, where y symbolised number of sold
motorcycles and x symbolises time (dashed line on the chart) proves a slow but
stable progress in the level of sale of brand new motorcycles in Poland. Apart
from that, an indicator R2 tells about vestigial deviation between
the linear trend and absolute real values.
On the base of
chart 2 a forecast of the level of sales of motorcycles in Poland can be done.
Calculating the formula, in 2004 there should be not less than 11.000
motorcycles sold in Poland.
Having such a
small scale of the market, orders from public institutions, such as police or
the army are very influential on the annual result of a chosen brand. For
instance, in 2002 Polish Road Police bought 250 units of the XJ 900 Diversion,
specially equipped for serving on Polish roads. On the other hand, Border Guards
bought the Austrian KTM for patrolling the borderline of Poland. There were no
stories about any big contract for motorcycles in 2003. Despite that, Polish
importers have believed in continuing the market trend. The expansion of the
Polish motorcycle market can also be proved on the basis of the increasing
number of magazines and newspapers aimed at motorcyclists. There were only two
monthly magazines in 1999, touching upon motorcycles. Today we can find about
five of them plus two moto-markets and many inserts in weekend issues of daily
newspapers as well as in magazines devoted to cars. Despite that, we know that
our market is tiny compared to the western countries. As an example one can
observe the German market, where one single Suzuki model, Bandit 600 was sold in
quantity exceeding 30.000 pieces.