After a year without big motorcycle shows for manufacturers, small companies and punters alike, Yamaha have just released a statement confirming they won’t be at Motorcycle Live at the Birmingham NEC in 2022.
Instead, they’ll focus on presenting their 2022 line-up digitally, via their online platforms. It has, however, been confirmed that they will be in attendance at EICMA (the Milan Motorcycle Show). Do Yamaha think the Italians are more important than us Brits? Probably not, no; it’s just that EICMA plays a much bigger role in the launch of new products, for all the manufacturers. But anyway, EICMA is besides the point. What’s going on, why won’t Yamaha be at Motorcycle Live? And what does it mean for the rest of the industry?
Well I expect being forced to have a year off the NEC has put things into perspective for Yamaha, as it would have done, to some extent, for the entire UK motorcycle industry. Every exhibitor at the NEC bike show is making a massive investment to be there, even the small ones. By the time they’ve paid for the floorspace, the physical stand, the staff, and the logistics of getting everything there, you’re into thousands and thousands and thousands of pounds. Ludicrous amounts of cash as well as resources get fired into the bike show every year, particularly for the manufacturers.
I imagine, despite last year being a bit of a clusterfuck all round, the UK HQ for Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki etc. could all breathe a sigh of relieve at the prospect of missing the annual NEC show.
And by the sounds of it, Yamaha have done alright without Motorcycle Live, on account of the fact that they’re pulling out this year. They’d have had to put certain things in place last year to mitigate the fact the show didn’t go ahead, and I’d expect those things must have worked well enough that they’re going to do the same (or similar) this year.
With Yamaha pulling out of Motorcycle Live, will any of the other big players follow suit? I think they might, yes. If Yamaha can manage without the show, then I’m sure the rest of them can. Or perhaps we’ll see manufacturers dipping in and out of the NEC show, from one year to the next. Yamaha have only really got the R7 to shout about this year, perhaps if they had a few more ‘all-new’ models and some extra ‘major-updates’, they’d be packing their troubles up and heading to Birmingham.
I think most manufacturers see Motorcycle Live as a bit of a necessary evil. They’ve always gone (well, most of the time, anyway), and they always will, because everyone else does and that’s what you’ve got to do to get your bikes in front of potential customers. But the world’s changing. We’ve got the internet now. We’ve also got deadly diseases that pray on people gathering in large groups. So who knows what’s going to happen?
At the end of the Yamaha statement it did say that “Attendance at UK and regional events will remain part of Yamaha Motor UK’s marketing approach during the 2022 season,” but I’ve got a feeling that if they have a reasonable first half of 2022, and hit their targets, they might decide to give the NEC show a miss again in ’22. And I’ve got a feeling, they might not be the only ones.