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REGISTRATIONS CLEAR AS MUD

BDN financial editor Roger Willis attempts to crunch some very confusing and distorted numbers, against a background of ongoing disrupted logistics and global component shortages.

From the latest May 2021 MCIA registration data, we know there is a strong recovery from last year’s vicious Covid-inspired decline in the second quarter. But it’s still unclear whether momentum will be maintained to delivery genuine annual growth — and whether there will actually be sufficient stock available going forward, to satisfy apparently burgeoning demand.

Taking a direct comparison to May 2020 (when a bounce from April’s particularly dire tallies was already starting to gather pace), total monthly registrations this time around were 148.4% up to 13,398. The perhaps more crucial improvement for five months of the year to date was a 40.2% rise to 43,242.

However, to get a credible picture of where these figures are pointing, we should contrast them with progress in the entirely pre-pandemic sunlit uplands of 2019. In May that year, registrations were virtually flat on 10,871. But the YTD position had grown by 7% to 47,822 — and stood 10.6% ahead of our equivalent status now.

This doesn’t necessarily mean much, considering unrequited earlier-season 2021 demand, when desirable models were either unavailable or inaccessible. And that’s continued to same extent, with a paucity of colourways, specification choice and quantities stretching into the future for many brands.

Sticking to YTD 2021 versus YTD 2019 parameters illustrates a very real advance for the 0-125cc sector. On this basis, it has grown by 11.9% to 18,200 machines. Within that, 0-50cc (now including 4kW electric bikes) was the major success story, adding 44.6% to 3549. Some 1582 of them were electric, against battery-powered volume too negligible to be counted back in 2019. And, according to importer VMoto, almost a third of these were Super Soco CPX scooters.

The 51-125cc contribution was more modest, increasing by just 6% to 14,651 from two years ago. And we have to recognise that the surge in fleet registrations, primarily for food delivery operators, can claim a large measure of responsibility. Yamaha’s NMax 125 scooter remained star of this show, boasting absolute highest-registered accolade once again in May thanks to another 659 samples. It also holds the YTD trophy as well, with an overall market share now exceeding 5% on my reckoning — and accounting for at least 40% of Yamaha’s entire sales.

For the 126cc-plus sector, YTD 2021 versus YTD 2019, the picture is altogether less attractive. Registrations of larger bikes were 20.6% down to 25,042, with the shortfall an approximately even spread across 126-650cc, 651-1000cc and over-1000cc engine bands.

Individual performance by leading brands in May 2021 against the same month in pre-pandemic 2019 is an occasionally enlightening exercise, undoubtedly queered by inventory gaps. Honda on the top step put on 13.8%. Yamaha soared by 43%. Triumph, boosted by its new Trident model, added 12.2% in third spot. BMW achieved a 30.5% lift but Kawasaki only managed a 2.8% improvement. KTM rose by 5.5%. Lexmoto was the most dramatic loser, 29.9% down on May 2019 and 34.1% lower than in May last year! Harley-Davidson lost 19.2%. Ducati grew by 4.3%.

It’ll be an enormous relief when we see June 2021 data, because that will herald a return to year-on-year comparative normality without guesswork.        

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