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11/10/2021

With September’s new-plate bonanza marking another weird selling season’s end, MCIA statistics revealed overall registrations fell by 7.5% against the equivalent period last year. However, they were a modest 3.4% up on the more relevant ninth month of pre-pandemic 2019. We can take that as an indicator of adequate underlying demand, even if supply continues to lag behind. BDN financial editor Roger Willis reports.

Out of a 13,425 total, motorcycles were 9.3% down at 9622. Scooters grew by 3.2% to 2861, while mopeds sank by 18.5% to 826. Trikes effectively flatlined, adding 0.9% (just one machine) to 116.

The 0-50cc band — mopeds plus approximate ePTW equivalents — added 1.1% to 1163. Conversely, 51-125cc products declined by 5.5% to 4685. Taken together, the up-to-125cc (or 11kW) sector was 4.2% lower year-on-year at 5848 than 6107 in September 2020’s urgent recovery surge, but an impressive 19.3% higher than 4903 in September 2019 prior to Covid’s malign arrival.

Unfortunately, the combined monthly total of 126cc-plus machines, moving from mobility into the far more lucrative leisure/enthusiast market, didn’t engender similar optimism. Registrations versus 2020 dropped by 9.9% to 7577 and were 6.2% down against 2019. Over-1000cc bikes were the most afflicted, falling by 11.9% in this latest data and 6.9% compared with September two years ago.

Inventory, or often rather abject lack of it owing to supply-chain constraints, clearly distorted the new-plate picture. Undoubtedly, this meant unrequited consumer desire, some of which may be satisfied as delayed shipments come ashore in the final quarter. Nevertheless, among the top-ten brands, only three achieved volume growth, year-on-year.

Perennial market leader Honda put on 6.9%. Elevation to highest-registered scooter and 51-125cc machine for its PCX125 was probably associated to anecdotal evidence that Yamaha had finally pretty much sold out of NMax 125 delivery fleet fodder of choice. Triumph in third spot rose by 14.4%, with Speed Twin and Trident models in receipt of category accolades and obviously therefore plentiful. Royal Enfield, absent from last September’s chart, reappeared in ninth.

Alll the rest were losers. Runner-up BMW Motorrad sank by 19.4%, although it still had enough R1250GS Adventure stock left to claim over-1000cc and style category slots. Yamaha was 12.6% down and relegated to fourth. Chinese champion Lexmoto in fifth plunged by 37.4%. Suzuki crept up to sixth, 19.3% in arrears but at least topping 126-650cc territory thanks to DL650 V-Strom availability. Kawasaki and KTM suffered respective 37.9% and 39.3% dives. Piaggio was tail-end charlie, losing 7%.

Incidentally, an MCIA claim relating to these statistics, that “last-mile delivery fleets moving over to electric” were driving impressive ePTW growth in the up-to-11kW segment didn’t bear close scrutiny. Sure, September sales in that segment increased by 114% to 520 machines. But Honda sold 557 samples of the aforementioned petrolhead PCX125 scooter model alone.