Overtaking the automobile in sales for the first time in Turkey’s history due to decreasing purchasing power, motorcycles will widen the gap in 2024. While a 35 percent contraction is expected in auto sales in 2024, motorcycle sales are expected to be parallel to 2023.
Bulent Kilicer Senior Assistant General Manager of Honda, one of the leading international brands in automobiles and motorcycles, visited EKONOMİ newspaper last week. Kılıçer answered our questions at the meeting attended by Hakan Guldag, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Vahap Munyar, General Coordinator of EKONOMİ newspaper, and made important statements about the automotive sector. Kilicer pointed out that there is a shift in sales from automobiles to motorcycles, and pointed out that this trend will continue to increase in 2024.
Bulent Kilicer said that rising sales have increased the investment appetite of brands in Turkey and that there could be significant developments in this regard in 2024. Kılıçer, who is also the former MOTED president, said, “There are two basic conditions for international motorcycle brands such as BMW, Yamaha and Honda to invest in a factory in a country: A sustainable market and predictability. If sales reach 900 thousand units this year, I think that not only Honda but also many other brands will roll up their sleeves for production. Depending on the sales performance in the first half, investment news may start to come in this regard.” Honda ended production at its factory in Gebze, which produces the Civic model, by taking the last vehicle off the line in September 2021. MOTED President Başarı Erbaş also stated that brands have put investment on the agenda and said, “We have reached one million units of sales in 2023. These figures are very promising for motorcycles. From now on, it is necessary to take the necessary measures to transform the sector into an industry. Our goal will be to produce 100 percent domestic motorcycles.”
Motorcycle sales, which gained momentum with the growth in e-commerce with the pandemic, started to grab a share from the automobile market after the price hikes in automobile and fuel. The increase in motorcycle sales accelerated in 2023, and the gap between motorcycle sales and automobiles started to close. In July 2023, for the first time in Turkey’s history, motorcycle sales overtook automobile sales. This trend continued in the following months. In the January-November 2023 period, motorcycle sales increased by 148 percent on an annual basis and reached approximately 881 thousand units, while automobile sales increased by 66.2 percent in the same period and remained below 841 thousand units.
December sales data for the motorcycle market has not yet been released. However, officials of the Motorcycle Industry Association (MOTED), speaking to EKONOMİ, predict that the motorcycle market closed last year with sales close to 950 thousand units. According to the Automotive Distributors and Mobility Association (ODMD) data, automobile sales increased by 63 percent in 2023 to approximately 947 thousand units. In 2024, motorcycle sales are expected to surpass automobile sales by a much larger margin.
Buying a car will become harder
Honda Turkey Senior Assistant General Manager Bulent Kilicer stated that they expect a 35 percent contraction in automobile sales in 2024, while motorcycle sales are expected to be at least parallel to 2023, i.e. around 900 thousand units. MOTED officials, on the other hand, state that the market could reach 1 million units next year, and that this figure could reach 1.2 million units with the opening of the way for 125cc engines to be used with a B class driver’s license. MOTED General Coordinator Remzi Öztürk said that a legal regulation on this issue is on the agenda in the coming weeks.
Stating that those who cannot afford a car are turning to motorcycles, which are a more accessible means of mobility, Kilicer said, “We see a significant increase in the number of people buying motorcycles for the first time. Doctors, engineers and pilots have left their cars and started using motorcycles, especially in summer. On the other hand, the number of people who buy motorcycles because they cannot afford a car is also increasing rapidly. While the price of the cheapest car reaches 1 million TL, the need for individual mobility can be met very easily by buying a 250cc medium segment motorcycle.