Saturday, April 13, 2024


Statistical confusion continued to reign in July, when an apparently sharp decline in registrations was patently nothing of the sort. BDN financial editor Roger Willis crunched the numbers.

MCIA data indicated a headline 11.6% monthly fall to 12,437 bikes plated. Within that, motorcycles allegedly dropped by 16% to 8573 and mopeds were 9% down to 774, while scooters rose by 3.5% to 2983.

But these were comparisons against the state of play in July last year, when dealerships had fully reopened after the initial pandemic lockdown for a second month of striving to meet previously supressed demand. Back then, resurgent registrations had recovered by a remarkable 41.9% to 14,070.

As the MCIA has pointed out, this latest month’s tally was still 25.4% higher than in pre-Covid July 2019. However, a cautionary note must come from YTD figures on the same basis. For the seven months of 2021 to date, total registrations have now reached 70,542 — 21% above YTD 2020 but only a mere 1.7% up on YTD 2019.

The position looks progressively less clever when similar YTD 2021 versus YTD 2019 rules of engagement are applied to capacity classes. On the bright side, 0-50cc and 4kW electric equivalents increased by a stonking 55.6%. And the 51-125cc sector, boosted mightily by delivery fleet sales, was 18.3% up.

All the rest is bad news. The 126-650cc firmament fell by 10.1%. 651-1000cc and over-1000cc machines were respectively 10.2% and 10.6% down. As a whole, 126cc-plus products with bigger price tags sank by 10.3% to 40,560. That represents a shortfall of 4648 bikes.

On a purely year-on-year gauge covering this July, the statistics do highlight where crucial stock shortages lurk, which brands are doing well, and those that clearly aren’t. For example, although Honda led the chart as usual, it had disappeared from highest-registered rankings and volume was 20.9% down.

Runner-up Yamaha, on the other hand, was on a roll. Volume actually stood 2.2% up and its ubiquitous NMax 125 scooter maintained PTW market leadership, accounting for slightly more than a third of the brand’s entire monthly registrations.

Triumph did even better on headcount growth, adding 16.8%, obviously aided and abetted by the budget-priced Trident 660’s ongoing success — topping Naked and 651-1000cc slots. Also in value-for-money territory, Royal Enfield’s Meteor 350 and Interceptor 650 respectively took Custom and Modern Classic accolades, as well as first and second podium places in the 126-650cc band.

A string of dunces followed. BMW dived by 26.9%. Lexmoto took a 42.9% hammering. Kawasaki plunged by 29.3% and KTM lost 19.3%. Suzuki vanished from the chart once again, after a singular 2021 guest appearance in June.

Behind all of this, there is no doubt demand remains resilient. But the depth of real growth is debatable, considering the range of pressures on both consumers and the industry — financial and job-security worries, supply-chain glitches, logistics bottlenecks and inevitable fear about the next mutated Covid assault. Modelling from the second half of last year, the pace of recovery is likely to moderate or could even hit the buffers. Assessing to what extent would require a crystal ball.


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