The global motorcycle oils market is projected to grow by a compound annual rate of 1.5% to 2% during the next four years, according to a forecast that predicts demand will remain low and flat in Europe, where two-wheelers are used more for recreation.
Europe accounted for only about 2% of global motorcycle oil demand in 2019, said Kline & Co., which pegs global demand between 1.5 million and 1.6 million tons.
During an Oct. 7 webinar, Sushmita Dutta, a project manager in the firm’s energy practice, predicted that demand for oils used in motorcycles, scooters and mopeds demand will slip to as low as 1.3 million tons in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts. For 2020, she said, “the degree of decrease in different countries will depend on how severely the pandemic affected the economy, the duration of lockdown and the kind of services that were considered non-essential during period of lockdown.” She added, though, that demand should recover in 2021.
The study covered factory and service fill lubricants used in two-wheelers, and excluded lubes used in three-wheelers, all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles. The study covered three key two-wheeler markets in the European Union – Germany, Italy and Spain.
Dutta noted that more developed countries – such as Italy and Germany – make more recreational use of two wheelers, instead of for transportation and business as is common in less developed countries.
About 95% of the engine oils used in two-wheelers are four-strike engine oils, she said. Other types of lubricants used in two-wheelers include fork oil suspension oil, greases, chain oil and gear oil.
Kline estimated Europe’s motor oil factory fill and service fill demand at 2,000 to 3,000 tons in 2019. Service-fill accounted for more than 95% of this, and factory fill for the remainder. Italy ranked 10th factory fill motorcycle engine oil demand globally, just behind the United States. She noted that many owners of two-wheelers prefer to perform their own oil changes.
Kline estimated Europe’s motorcycle engine oil demand at 30,000-40,000 tons for 2019. Synthetic and semi-synthetic engine oils accounted for around 75% of that demand, and conventional for the remainder. Among the three European countries the study looked specifically, Spain’s motorcycle engine oil demand was particularly dominated by synthetics and semi-synthetics, which accounted for nearly 90%. That was slightly ahead of Italy and then Germany.
She noted that motorcycles’ share of motorcycle oil demand tends to be slightly higher than its share in the overall population. Motorcycles tend to have a bigger sump size than mopeds and scooters, she explained. Generally, she said, two wheeler models that have engine capacity above 500 cubic centimeters are considered motorcycles. She noted that the smaller scooters tend to lead in popularity in certain countries, including Italy and Spain.
In Germany, motorcycles dominated in terms of motorcycle oil demand, accounting for around 60%. Scooters and mopeds account for the rest.
In Italy, scooters dominate with about 50% of demand. Motorcycles accounted for around 40% and mopeds for the rest.
Spain had a similar mix to Italy, with scooters accounting for more than 50%, motorcycles for just under 50%, and mopeds for the small remainder.
Dutta said heavier 20W weight motorcycle oils will continue to lead the global market over the next five years. She noted that 10Ws have significantly penetrated the four-stroke market in key countries, and over the next five years, the share of 10Ws in the four-stroke market is expected to grow at a faster rate, compared to heavier viscosity grades. She noted that, “5Ws are also used in this market, but are not very popular. Their use is limited to niche segments, essentially for some two wheelers with high engine capacity and European countries.”
The motorcycle oils market is highly fragmented, Dutta noted, with a large number of smaller suppliers accounting for about half of global demand in 2019. “The leading suppliers don’t have a very large share in this overall market,” she said.
“BP is the leading supplier because it is present in most of the [motorcycle oils] consuming countries,” Dutta noted. Similarly, she said, Shell has a presence as motorcycle oils supplier in many markets. “Both these companies focus on innovative products, marketing and offer from time to time promotions to their customers and invest in advertising. All these activities make these companies the two leading suppliers to this market.”
Also among the top suppliers is French company Motul, which Dutta said focuses on the high-end market, selling high quality lubricants made of synthetics that are targeted at two wheeler vehicles with larger engine capacities.