In some countries, motorcycles are a luxury and a pastime. However in other countries, such as Colombia, they are basic transportation for millions. Cold or hot, rain or shine, motorcycles are on the road in Colombia 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Latin America’s most important motorcycle industry event, the Feria de dos Ruedas, has been held annually in Medellin for approaching a decade. Taking place in Medellín’s Plaza Mayor Convention Center, the 2015 event that took place from May 21-24 was completely sold out, with no extra exhibitor space remaining.
Though the event is primarily trade and industry oriented, with merchants and manufactures exhibiting from as far away as India, China, and Korea, it is open to the public on the latter days, and features competitions, awards, entertainment, stunt shows, and demonstrations. Finance Colombia’s Loren Moss was on hand at this year’s event, and had a chance to speak with the event’s founder and leader, Guillermo Pajon about the motorcycle industry in Colombia, the success of the event, and of course, motorcycles.
Finance Colombia: So, how long have you been holding this event been held here in Colombia?
Guillermo Pajon: We’re counting nine years, this is the ninth version of the fair, we started in the year 2007, and it’s a fair that’s held annually, every year.
Finance Colombia: And always here in Medellín?
Guillermo Pajon: Yes, it has always been in Medellín, we began with 7,000 square meters and we’re already at 22,000 square meters. We have been growing with patience and with a lot of discipline.
Finance Colombia: And you’re saying that for the first year you don’t have a single square meter of exhibit left unsold for the event?
Guillermo Pajon: We don’t, that’s right.
Finance Colombia: Walking around, it is obvious that you have participants coming from all over the world: the United States, and China, and obviously here in South America, and in México, so what is the importance of this event for the motorcycle and motorcycle sports sector here in Colombia?
Guillermo Pajon: After Brasil, Colombia is the second country in Latin America with the most developed motorcycle industry: not just in production and assembly, but also in the commercialization, and I think that what Colombia has experienced is going to replicate throughout Central America and South America, since the motorcycle industry growing strongly in these countries, and logically Colombia’s experience is going to be very important, because they can benefit from the experience the Colombian businessmen have gained. There is a great opportunity because of the geostrategic position that Colombia has in order to open markets in Central and South America, especially the southern cone.
Finance Colombia: I find that the market is a bit different from the American one, in North America, when we talk about México, the United States, Canada, over there the motorcycle is more of a hobby, a sport, I, for instance, had my motorcycle (a Honda CBR600 F2), it was something like—
Guillermo Pajon: A lifestyle.
Finance Colombia: Yes, “What a nice day, I’m going to take my motorcycle and not my car,” here it seems like the market is different and that the motorcycle is something necessary.
Guillermo Pajon: Yes.
In Colombia there are at least six motorcycle manufacturers
Finance Colombia: And how does that affect the marketing and participation of the companies and the offers to the marketplace?
Guillermo Pajon: The motorcycle in Colombia became, not just a motorcycle as a lifestyle item, which it was before, but when the prices dropped, when the supply grew, then the economic strata that couldn’t access a vehicle before, bought those motorcycles to transport themselves to the university, to their workplaces, but a job opportunity was also developed: for deliverymen, for deliveries, and enabling growth opportunities in other intermediate cities, so the motorcycle—in Colombia today 53% to 55% of the motor pool in Colombia nowadays are motorcycles, and you could say that 23% or 24% of homes in Colombia have a motorcycle,
And what does that mean? It means that it became an important element for the lives of Colombians, be it as transportation means, as a lifestyle or as means to make a living in order to have income.
Finance Colombia: And what about the domestic industry? Are there any companies participating that are Colombian companies that already have accessories, or manufacturers of any types?
Guillermo Pajon: These manufacturers have made a tremendous effort and we have very good quality products such as accessories, equipment, special clothing for motorcyclist and bicyclists, and in Colombia there are at least six motorcycle manufacturers: That is to say, we bring all the products in, we assemble them, and 35% of what’s assembled must be produced locally. That is to say, that of a motorcycle that is being assembled in Colombia, 35% must be of national product. So that has boosted the economy, it has boosted the industry, and it has generated challenges for the manufacturers: for them to improve their quality, for them to improve their processes. As such, they can be competitive against markets as aggressive as the Asian ones: China, Taiwan and India, which are very aggressive markets with very low prices. What Colombia is aiming for is to offer differentiating products with very good quality and very good backing.
Finance Colombia: Now I must ask, what is your personal motorcycle?
Guillermo Pajon: A Harley Davidson Iron 883.
Finance Colombia: Well, thank you very much.