The Free Trade Agreement with Japan and, to a lesser extent Korea, will be a bonanza for Australian motorcycle riders.
Prices of bikes, accessories and gear such as expensive Arai and Shoei helmets should come down. It should also lead to a motorcycle discount war as other manufacturers slash prices to stay competitive
Australia now has FTAs in place with Thailand, USA, Korea and Japan, but there is also talk of an agreement with China. Already Chinese manufacturer CFMoto has made huge inroads into our market with its bargain-priced quality bikes. Expect even cheaper prices to follow.
Look at what has happened in the car industry. The biggest impact on car prices in Australia in the past few years has been the result of the FTA with Thailand. Almost all dual cab utes and Honda cars sold in Australia are now made in Thailand. The companies didn’t establish factories in Thailand just to service the Australian market. They were built there to take advantage of cheap labour and a well-regulated industry. However, the FTA just made them even more affordable for us.
Despite some initial concern about quality, there have been no issues. I visited a couple of Thai automotive factories and found them as good, if not better, than some of their parent Japanese factories. They are all-new, on greenfield sites, with the latest manufacturing technology, plus strict supervision and quality control.
Motorcycle manufacturers have been a little slower to take advantage of the rapidly-developing South East Asian automotive industry, but even iconic British manufacturer Triumph has been making bikes in Thailand for a few years. It has allowed the company to keep its prices down and stay competitive.
Even Harley-Davidson is now making its new Street family in India. It has not yet been confirmed if Australia will get the Street 500 from India or Kansas, but build-quality should be identical. The most important thing is that prices will be cheap.
And now there is the added discounting impetus of FTAs with Korea, Japan and possibly China. It can only lead to more companies seeking out cheaper manufacturing facilities in South East Asia to compete. There has already been talk of BMW manufacturing outside of Berlin and Ducati must surely be tempted to make a similar move, especially since it is trying to make inroads into the Indian market.
The future looks bright – and cheap – for Aussie riders!