Wednesday, July 24, 2024


Proving there was plenty of demand out there, despite locked-down dealer showrooms throughout the new-plate month, March MCIA registration statistics were remarkable in that they almost looked like business as usual to the casual observer. BDN financial editor Roger Willis reports.

Total numbers reached 12,268, only 6.2% down year-on-year. However, they were 26.5% lower than the 16,682 registrations recorded during that forgotten pre-Covid era of March 2019.

Within this latest headline figure, motorcycles fell by 13.5% to 9032. Scooters were 25.9% up to 2578, trikes added 26.6% at 119 and mopeds rose by 8.5% to 539. The 0-50cc engine band, which conflates conventional mopeds with some electric machines of equivalent power, put on 45.5% to 850.

Generally, self-isolating commuter appeal in an up-to 125cc or equivalents range remained in the limelight, stacking on 16.3% to 4075. But it has to be said that particular success for 125cc scooters was distorted by substantial commercial fleet sales input — hardly a commuting application. All the same, a sign of the future was highest-registered domination in 50cc/moped categories by three electric steeds — in order of headcount, the Super Soco CPX, Yadea S-like and Surron Light Bee. 

The 126cc-plus firmament did less well, losing 14.4% at 8193. Within that sector, 651-1000cc products suffered worst, sinking by 18.3%. A critical factor hampering what might have been a lot better monthly performance was unrequited demand through ongoing inventory shortages. Many new Euro 5 models have yet to arrive in any quantity or at all. The responsibility lies with Covid-related production glitches and shipments disruption from the Far East.

Although it held onto brand leadership narrowly, Honda was clearly afflicted by stock unavailability, falling by 18.9% and boasting only a relative handful of CMX500 Rebels as sole presence in the style categories. BMW Motorrad, benefiting from a much shorter supply chain for most of its output, was only 131 bikes behind and 14.1% up in second spot. Slightly more than a fifth of its registrations were hi-spec R1250GS Adventure models, taking Adventure Sport style and over-1000cc engine band accolades. 

Third-placed Yamaha was also a climber, rising by 12.8%. But half of its entire monthly volume consisted of NMax fleet fodder, claiming outright highest-registered powered two-wheeler, scooter and 51-125cc engine band gongs. One customer was accident management, food delivery and courier hire specialist Plantec Assist, which accounted for a large slice of them. Elsewhere in the company catalogue, Yamaha struggled to satisfy dealer needs.

Triumph in fourth more or less held station, slipping by just 2.7%. Some 306 samples of this British flag carrier’s new budget-priced Trident topped the Naked style category and 651-1000cc engine band. But, again, anecdotal evidence suggested Triumph dealers could have shifted many more on the new plate if they’d arrived from factories in Thailand on time.

Fifth-ranked Kawasaki was a blatant victim of inventory famine, its registrations plummeting by 53.9%. KTM in sixth had the same fate, a painful 34.5% down. Lexmoto was a loser too, by 11.8%, still awaiting the Euro 5 version of its best-selling LXR125 in adequate quantities.

On a brighter note, Ducati bounced back into the top-ten chart with a 10% registrations increase year-on-year, thanks to enough desirable product and a mercifully short European logistics route from Bologna to Blighty. Royal Enfield also returned to the rankings for a second month on the trot, now in ninth place. Numbers of its cheap and resoundingly cheerful Interceptor 650 twin improved by 6.2% versus last March, tucking the bike back into highest-registered 126-650cc bragging rights.

Armed with insufficient supply of the legendary Hayabusa’s attention-grabbing revised version, Suzuki nevertheless managed to sneak into tenth. But its overall registrations tally plunged by 39.8%, given a widespread paucity of stock that has even forced Hayabusa demonstrator rationing on dealers.

Suzuki’s woes pale into insignificance compared to Harley-Davidson, though. Ranked ninth in the March 2020 chart, Harley hasn’t made an appearance so far this year and its new-plate volume must therefore be at least 30% in arrears.      


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