Not only the pandemic was the cause of the prolonged pause between the first Moto Show of 2018 and this second edition, which is taking place during this long weekend in La Rural. The original idea of its organizers had been that it would be done in 2022, but then the exchange rate trap got the tail: without dollars to import high-end motorcycles, the main attraction was missing.
This year the trap is even more closed, but for motorcycle assembly companies a window was opened that allows them to use their pesos to buy yuan, China's currency, at the official exchange rate.
Unlike cars of Chinese origin, whose brands still do not reach 1% of patents, motorcycles of Chinese origin represent about 70% of the market, according to estimates by executives who make up the Chamber of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (CAFAM).
"100% of the low-displacement bikes, up to 110cc, are Chinese. That market between 55% and 60% of patents. To that we must add at least half of the motorcycles with the highest displacement, "said one of the main managers of the chamber headed by Lino Stefanuto.
At the beginning of the year, the Central Bank had reserves in yuan for the equivalent of 5,000 million dollars, a fund that remained practically intact. Until April 26, when Minister Sergio Massa announced the activation of the swap with China.
With this mechanism, according to estimates by the Economy Ministry, imports of goods for US$ 1,717 million have already been paid only until mid-May, 34% of the amount available in the BCRA's reserves.
Ducati Multistrada V2, at the Moto Show. It will be the second model that Volkswagen will assemble in Córdoba.
In the case of motorcycles, many of the models on display this weekend were brought (and ordered) many months ago, before the swap with China was activated at the end of April.
But for entrepreneurs in the sector, the key fact is that expectations were opened: now they aim to maintain commercial activity, as well as that of assembly plants. And they aim to sell about 500,000 units, which would represent a 15% increase against motorcycle patents in 2022.
With this bypass of the yuan, importers avoid the overcrowded line of buyers of dollars at official prices. According to Clarín, the option "pay with yuan" when filling out the SIRA form (by Import System) is approved without further delay.
In Argentina, 97% of motorcycles are imported, according to figures from the Chamber of Motorcycle Manufacturers (CAFAM), with a very low local integration scheme: until December 31, each assembler is required to have a floor of 2% of local auto parts for each motorcycle, and those with greater local integration are around 15%.
In this way, between 85% and 98% of the motorcycle arrives disassembled in wooden boxes with the IKD format (for "incompletely knocked down"): in the plant they are assembled and some local auto part is added, which for the moment is usually seats or plastic pieces.
A single factory, Honda, brings some models from Brazil with zero tariff, but according to sources in the sector the price is "anticompetitive" against Chinese IKDs. Another percentage, also lower, is imported from India and Europe.
Of the 16 assemblers, five stand out the most. The first place in sales, with 35% share, is occupied by the Iraola Group (of Leandro Iraola) which has a conglomerate of brands, from Corven to Kawasaki, with its main plant in Venado Tuerto and another in La Reja. Iraola is also a partner in the Zanella brand.
It is followed by the multinational Honda, which unified all its motorcycle production at its Campana plant, with just over 20% of the market, and a little further behind (20%) is the La Emilia group, of Marcelo and Mario Meller, creators of the Motomel brand and representatives of Suzuki, Benelli and Sym.
In fourth place is another national brand with 70 years of history, Gilera (approximately 10%), whose owners also have the representation of the foreign brands Hero and Voge. The fifth place is occupied by the Simpa Group, a family business of petrochemical origin, whose third generation developed a division of import and subsequent assembly of medium and high-end motorcycles, with the British-Indian brand Royal Enfield as flagship.