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COVID-QUEERED REGISTRATIONS AGAIN

MCIA registrations data for February 2022 may look spectacular but can be more accurately described as satisfactory, owing to yet another month of Covid lockdowns in place during this period last year. BDN financial editor Roger Willis refuses to wear rose-tinted specs.

February’s overall growth of 81.7% to a total of 5212 machines plated sounds fantastic but only makes sense when compared to pre-pandemic February 2020 — from which the headline count has actually risen by a more modest 13.1%.

Genuinely good news is that the up-to-125cc sector has surged by 37% to 2979 on the same parameter, so demand for and availability of small machines remains strong. Presumably fleet sales are still an ongoing driver and some brands have adequate stock.

Everything else, though, sat on a declining scale. The 126-650cc band only advanced by 5.3% to 1006. Bigger 651-1000cc stuff was a painful 27.9% down to 632. Over-1000cc products dropped by 1% to 595.

Among leading manufacturers versus their February 2020 positions, Honda stood out as the only winner, 19.2% up to 1340. And its PCX125 scooter also appears to have evicted Yamaha’s NMax 125 from the delivery-steed-of-choice podium, probably because Yamaha dealer cupboards are bare. Indeed, Yamaha seems to be suffering a disproportionate supply-chain crisis. The brand registered only 372 bikes, 37.1% fewer than a fairly lamentable tally two years ago.

Lexmoto was on the back foot too, 13.2% down to 369. Triumph more or less held station, 1.9% in arrears on 256, equating to just five machines missing. BMW lost 7.1% to 208. KTM took a harder knock, plunging by 44.4% to 174. MotoGB’s Taiwanese SYM brand (although hardly a market leader) deserved an honourable mention, stacking on 59.3% to 137.

For the first time in living memory, Kawasaki joined now-frequent Japanese absentee Suzuki in wearing an off-chart dunce’s hat. At least their dealers will be able to polish showroom floors without the inconvenience of having any desirable stock parked on them.    

More squiffy statistics were evident in year-to-date calculations. Total 2022 registrations 70.1% up from last February to 11,399 look great at first glance. But going forward from the same pre-pandemic point in 2020, the gain is a mere 6%. YTD up-to-125cc numbers are the healthiest, climbing by 24.6% to 5808. The 126-650cc range is reasonable as well, adding 11.2% to 2608. But 651-1000cc bikes are 19.7% down at 1662 and over-1000cc machines have actually sunk by 21.1% to 1321.

However, the value of such statistical juggling to judge market reality may soon expire altogether, due to Russia’s war on Ukraine. Never mind vagaries imposed by the Covid pandemic’s fluctuating history over the past two years, a dramatic inflationary impact on the UK’s cost of living from sky-rocketing energy, food and general consumer prices, plus further damage to already-dysfunctional supply chains, is now about to put a fearsomely fresh cat among our pigeons.           

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