August 16 2005.
Japanese domestic sales of motorcycles in 2004 dropped 7.9% from the previous year to 700,021 units, the second straight year of decline.
The weak performance of models with 125cc or smaller engines, which make up about 80% of the market, led the downward sales trend that has continued since the 1980s.
Against this backdrop, the top two companies, Honda and Yamaha increased their market shares, supported by robust sales of large scooters which have been in strong demand in recent years.
Sales of models with 51-125cc engine capacity plunged 30.2% to 62,780 units, the biggest drop among all categories. Those with 50cc or smaller engine capacity marked a 7.3% fall in sales to 500,388. Sales of 126-250cc models, a category which includes the popular 250cc scooters, rose 10.5% to 97,135.
Industry leader Honda enjoyed strong sales of its new "Forza" large scooter series, which went on the market in April last year. Also contributing to the higher market share was the expanded network of its large "Dream" sales outlets.
Second-ranked Yamaha saw its "Majesty" large scooter line continue to perform strongly. The release in January 2004 of new models, which are using aluminum frames for the first time on a 250cc scooter, helped boost sales of the series.
Third-place Suzuki whose share leaped 3.5 points in 2003, lost ground last year, due mainly to a slowdown in sales of its low-priced "Choinori" scooters, a driving force of the firm's growth in 2003.

Japanese Two Wheel Sales 2004.
1 Honda - 55.5% market share. Up 0.5%
2 Yamaha - 24.4% market share. Up 1.4%
3 Suzuki - 17.3% market share. Down 1.6%
4 Kawasaki - 2.8% market share. Down 0.3%
Total domestic sales 700,021 units. Down 7.9%

Source: The Nikkei Business Daily.