September 20 2004

Japan's motorcycle makers are expanding exports from their production bases in China as part of a common strategy to take advantage of the low manufacturing costs there and compete directly with their Chinese rivals, who are aggressively selling low-priced bikes in Asia as well as Central and South America.

Suzuki Motor Corp. has redesigned a 125cc motorcycle originally intended for the Chinese market and begun producing it at a partner plant in Jiangmen for export to Indonesia. Until now, the company has shipped motorcycles from China to places such as Mexico and Brazil. Its exports in 2003 totaled around 35,000 units, but that number is expected to hit about 100,000 in 2004.

Yamaha Motor Co. recently began exporting 125cc motorcycles to Turkey from its joint venture in Chongqing. In addition to the 10,000 motorcycles that it plans to ship annually to Turkey, the firm is considering making a model that meets stricter emission controls and can be exported to European Union nations starting in or after 2005.

Honda Motor Co. exported roughly 170,000 motorcycles last year from China, including those shipped to Japan, Turkey and Central and South America. The company plans to nearly double that figure to around 300,000 units a year between now and 2007.

Source - Nikkei Weekly