Strong motorcycle growth in Q1

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According to figures released by the MCIA overall registrations of powered two-wheelers totalled 16,282 machines in March 2015, a rise of 11.8% compared with the same month last year.

As a result the ytd total at the end of the first quarter of 2015 stood at 25,249 p-t-w’s, for solid growth of 11.7%.

Sales of mopeds continued to be in what has been a near constant decline over the last twelve months, falling 8.7% in March to 909 units.  That left the Q1 total at 1,920 units, now 12.1% below the figures in 2014.

The scooter sector, step-through machines of 51cc and above, saw registrations of 2,655 machines in March for an increase of six per cent against the same month last year.  This brought the Q1 total to 4,841 and contributed to year-on-year growth of 4.9%.

Registrations of geared motorcycles, excluding scooters, totalled 12,718 machines in March for a rise of 15.0%.  This contributed to a Q1 total of 18,488 motorcycle registrations, for substantial growth of exactly 17.0% above the total of 15,805 machines for the first quarter of 2014.

Ytd registrations of learner-legal machines up to 125cc, have risen by 11.4%, to 8,432 machines. The middle-weight band, 126-650cc machines, has increased by 20.8% with 4,201 registrations. Strongest growth is seen in the 651-1,000cc band, where registrations were up 25.6% at 5,872 machines.  However, the over 1,000cc band slipped back, down 0.5% in March, to end the quarter up just 2.2% at 4,798 motorcycles.

At the end of the first quarter of 2015, both Honda and Yamaha have held on to their traditional two positions at the lead of the overall sales chart.  BMW, as a result of stronger growth, have taken third place from Triumph and also the crown of market leaders of over 651cc machines. With the exception of Harley-Davidson, all the mainstream and premium motorcycle brands have recorded increases near to or above the market average.

According to Glass’s most recent survey of trade opinion, demand for new motorcycles had increased for 33% of respondents while the remainder reported demand as level; there were no reports of any decline. That opinion was fully in line with feedback from franchised dealers, and with the registration figures reported here.

However, it was not all plain sailing and there was some evidence of the competitive nature of the new market when one third also reported that retail discounts had increased, although the remainder stated that discount levels were unchanged.

With all new-for-2015 models now available in increased numbers there is every possibility that motorcycle registrations will continue to grow, provided consumer demand is not undermined by the distraction of the General Election, or by the temptations of the new car market. Registrations of new cars were up by six per cent overall in March, at 492,774 vehicles, driven largely by fleet/lease replacement volume which was up 11.6%. Private car purchases totalled 253,043 vehicles, 2.7% up on March last year, although the ytd performance had increased by just 1.1%.

Surprisingly, responses to the recent trade survey included the suggestion of a decline in consumer demand for used motorcycles. However, that was definitely not a common theme across the broad range of retailers’ feedback. Generally the views expressed were that demand was holding level or actually increasing further.