Yesterday, Yamaha announced that it would cease development on JDM-exclusive motorcycles sporting engines with over 250cc of displacement. Japan’s domestic motorcycle market has been especially sluggish this year (partly due to the March quake, and partly due to the strong Yen hurting export profits). Yamaha cites increasing difficulties in recovering R&D costs as the primary reason to cut JDM-excluisve bikes out of its global offerings.
Further emphasizing the under-performing Japanese market, Yamaha’s main production facility in Iwata City (in the Shizuoka Prefecture) has produced less than 180,000 bikes over the past ten years – well below the 200,000 the company requires for the factory to return a profit.
Yamaha’s decision marks the first time one of the “big four” motorcycle giants have discontinued an entire “class” of bikes.
At the same time, domestic sales of Japan-only electric bicycles and smaller-displacement motor scooters (as in the US) appear to be unaffected, and continue at a steady pace despite quake/yen drama. It should also be noted that (again, for the first time) Yamaha will be offering precisely the same products both at home in Japan and abroad, clearly with the hopes that combining the previously separated foreign and domestic R&D costs (which, for Yamaha, are probably substantial) will reduce overhead enough to keep the company afloat until sales pick back up.