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UK

22/01/2021

Motorcycle manufacturers and dealers started 2020 with some optimism following years of stagnation in the new market. With a timeline in place for BREXIT and a General Election out of the way, it seemed the UK could look forward to a new beginning. No one could have predicted what happened next. With the rapid global spread of COVID-19, on 23 March the UK went into national lockdown. Critically, this came at the start of the motorcycle season. With dealers unable to open until the beginning of June, there was concern that much of the season was lost.

Paul McDonald, Glass’s Leisure Vehicles Editor said, “2020 was a tough year globally, with personal and economic restrictions in place for much of the year. The UK motorcycle market has proved remarkably resistant, especially following Lockdown-1 with strong sales activity.”

Once dealers re-opened in June, they were inundated with enquiries and sales. The moped and scooter markets benefitted from commuters choosing to ride to work isolated from passengers on public transport. Demand was strong across the board with consumers purchasing motorcycles using money from holiday funds unused due to travel restrictions.

Newcomers to the market boosted sales in 2020. This came as great news for the industry as a lack of new riders has been a concern in recent years. Following Lockdown-2 in November, December enjoyed an astounding recovery, well ahead of 2019. Whilst some growth may have attributed to pre-registrations in preparation for Euro 5, a growth of 57.1% is still very impressive.

Meanwhile, data published by the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) shows year-end total registrations were only 2.9% down on 2019, highlighting the strong recovery. Mopeds and scooters were the two categories to record yearly growth of 14.6% and 10.2% respectively.

Engine band highest registered models – December 2020

Power Band

Model

0-50cc

Yadea C-LIKE

51-125cc

Lexmoto ENIGMA ZS 125 T-48

126-650cc

Suzuki DL650 V-STROM

651-1000cc

Suzuki GSX-S750 Z PHANTOM

Over 1000cc

BMW R1250 GS ADVENTURE

Data courtesy of the MCIA

New Motorcycle Market

Feedback for sales and demand in December was mixed with some dealers reporting a reasonable month with sales ahead of last year. Demand in December continued the recent trend with mopeds, scooters and smaller cc machines the strongest and healthy levels of interest remaining across the board. Right now, one of the main issues moving into 2021 is supply shortages, particularly for commuter machines. Understandably, dealers are concerned for January due to Lockdown-3. However, once again they are cautiously optimistic for 2021 with lots of new machines set for launch encouraging a bounce-back in demand at the end of Lockdown-3.

What can the industry expect moving forward?

With dealer showrooms closed again, January is another challenging month for dealers. However, with processes like ‘click and collect’ services, this lockdown should have a lower impact on sales. That said, the recent Scottish government rules tightening including banning non-essential ‘click and collect’ could see a further negative impact on the motorcycle market.

Additionally, it is not certain when Lockdown-3 will ease with various restrictions likely to remain in place for several months. The other concern is the ongoing effects this will have on the economy, potentially reducing consumer spending. However, the industry proved to be remarkably resilient in 2020, giving hope for 2021. It is also positive to see COVID-19 vaccines rolling out across the country, giving a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel.  

Used Motorcycle Market

Following Lockdown-2 and the Christmas period, recent feedback suggests variable retail activity in December, with some dealers reporting strong enquiry levels. However, with the start of another national lockdown in January, dealers are understandably concerned about the used market.

Although this is a disappointing start to the year, dealers remain cautiously optimistic that 2021 will be positive overall, with a significant bounce-back predicted at the end of Lockdown-3.

Top-Selling Models

Apart from larger cc Sport machines that are typically quiet at this time of year, demand continues to be good across the board.  Mopeds, Scooters and 125cc machines remain the most sought after and this is likely to continue for the near future, especially with a shortage of new machines. The Yamaha MT ranges continue their popularity whilst the Kawasaki Z1000SX also remains in strong demand.

Stock

Stock availability continues to be a challenge for many dealers and most auctions have strong bidding activity. Covid-19 working restrictions in factories are extending order to delivery times for 2021 new stock. These delays are increasing demand for late plate used machines. Dealers report forecourt stock levels are leaner than last year, however many are currently satisfied with these levels because of the current lockdown situation.

Sales Activity

Unlike recent years, when January has been mild and snow-free, 2021 started on a cold note with snow and ice for some parts of the UK leading to poor riding conditions. However, taking into account strong market prices, and the fact that dealers are ordering stock for the season ahead, values have been moderately increased across the board in Glass’s February edition, except where trade feedback or evidence from the market has indicated certain models require further specific adjustments.

Paul McDonald

Leisure Vehicles Editor