Can Motorcycle Makers Build Cooler Cars Than Real Car Companies?
Clint Lawrence, founder of Motorcycle Shippers, industry consultant and ambassador of fun. [email protected]
It’s been a decade since the recession, and motorcycle sales still continue to sputter. Well-regarded companies like Harley Davidson have seen global retail sales drop 6.7% in 2017, following a previous three-year drop in sales. As Baby Boomers age, future-minded motorcycle companies are continuing to shift their focus to meet the changing needs of a new rider demographic.
For some companies, that might just mean expanding into the automobile market. But while it’s traditionally been difficult for new players to enter the saturated car market, rising stars like Tesla have challenged the notion and seen growing success. The company has emerged as an automobile powerhouse, showing that innovation and fresh ideas can beat established players and traditional thinking.
Expanding the marketplace
Some of the big automobile players have proven that it’s possible to expand their brands. BMW and Honda have been successful at building some of the best motorcycles and cars on the market.
But could it work the other way around?
Jennings Harley Davidson created some unique renderings of what cars designed by motorcycle companies might look like. The result went viral in the motorcycling community, with unique sleek designs that look very different from the cars we know today. While the renderings are currently fanciful artwork, the turning tides of the motorcycle market, along with the established reputation for quality and innovation of that bike brands bring might just be what it takes to successfully break into a saturated automobile market.
If motorcycle makers made cars…
Their first electric motorcycle (EM) will be released this year. With the motorcycle industry already lagging behind in the electric vehicle space, the EM launch could give the company a needed facelift. But with the Harley rendering of the classic American hot rod upgraded with some contemporary touches, the company might just find automobiles to be a profitable and successful endeavor. Unlike most cars, this design has an exposed engine, configured as a ‘V‘, with brutalist straight pipes and wider-than-average whitewall tires. The classic Harley styling includes a leather trunk where the saddlebags would be, along with loads of chrome.
Aprilia’s design was made with the Dorsoduro 900 supermoto in mind. The car is light and sporty, in the vein of true sports cars, but with some edge from the rally lights. The interior is enclosed, and the high ground clearance offers numerous off-roading options for the outdoorsman. See the rendering here.
Ducati’s rendering takes inspiration from the styling of Audi’s cars. It looks like the Diavel, and has an exposed cage with a passenger seat like the Ariel Atom. With its exposed suspension, riders could glide over the rough roads with ease. See the rendering here.
For Kawasaki, the artist kept with the theme of classic Japanese design. The neon touches give it an air of the super-fast Ninja H2. The rendering looks like an urban dream, with some serious edgy styling. See the rendering here.
Unlike some of the other bike brands, Triumph has actually built cars before. The new rendering looks strikingly similar to the resto-mod TR7, but with some American muscle car thrown in. See the rendering here.
Vespa might just have the most iconic styling for scooters on the market. If they were to break into the automobile industry, their cars would likely be just as distinctive. The rendering highlights smooth curves, somewhat like the VW Beetle, but packaged in an even smaller two-seater. The covered rear wheels keep the engine hidden. See the rendering here.
An innovative take on style may just enable motorcycle manufacturers to increase their falling sales by branching into the automobile market . Consumer tastes are changing and preference for well-designed, efficiently-sized vehicles is growing. And this shift could just bring with it the unique opportunity for motorcycle manufacturers to enter the game in a bigger, cooler way.
Do you think entering the automobile market is a smart move for motorcycle makers? Or will quality suffer if they spread themselves too thin? We’d love to hear your thoughts.