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STEPPING UP TO NEW-PLATE REGISTRATIONS

The first new-plate month of this year produced a very sound result at first glance, especially given ongoing tight stock availability. On the positive side, dealers cashed in on premium prices ensured by such shortages. But lack of real growth reflected an effective registrations stand-still spanning the pandemic. BDN financial editor Roger Willis crunched the numbers.

Numbers recovered to a total of 16,784 during March 2022, according to MCIA data, eliciting whoops of joy from non-statisticians who couldn’t see past an annualised increase of 36.8% for the month. The hard historical truth was somewhat different.

In March 2021, the tail-end of a second big Covid lockdown had seen the number of new-plate bikes registered fall by 6.2% year-on-year to 12,268. And the very first absolute Covid lockdown’s impact in the latter part of March 2020 had wiped 21.6% off an eventual 13,075-strong monthly registrations tally.

Stepping all the way back to the pre-Covid past of March 2019, we can observe a remarkably similar figure to the latest new-plate bonanza — 16,682 bikes ridden out of showrooms. So registrations growth across the diseased divide stands at a mere 0.6%, an emaciated advance of just 102 machines.

Comparisons versus March 2019 continue to be a useful tool for explaining where the industry is now. The up-to-125cc sector this March was 23.7% ahead to 5435 machines, happily wallowing in gig-economy delivery fleet demand — possibly a paradigm shift in lifestyle requirements post-pandemic. However, 126-650cc middleweights were 6.8% down to 3512. And over-651cc products attracting progressively fatter wallets were 8% lower at 7837.

The extent to which major manufacturers have either suffered or prospered over this rolling three-year timeframe is also enlightening. In many cases, current supply-chain woes suggest stock shortfalls rather than any paucity of demand are to blame.

As usual, Honda topped the pile but incurred a 10.4% loss. Its highest-registered product was the fleet-friendly PCX125 scooter, accounting for 14.8% of the brand’s volume. Hardly a cash cow. Runner-up BMW Motorrad fell by a much more tolerable 3.4%, given its star turn — the R1250GS Adventure — certainly flaunted cash-cow status and represented a plumptious 22.5% of headcount. Yamaha in third trailed a long way behind the market leader, by considerably more than 1000 units, and sank by 11.3%.

Triumph was actually 1.5% up against March 2019, led by the new budget-priced 660 Tiger Sport earning highest-registered 651-1000cc honours. Kawasaki completed the top five 27.7% down. Consolation prizes were Z900RS and Ninja 1000X models on respective Modern Classic and Road Sport style category podiums. Their combined volume equated to 38.4% of the brand’s entire monthly registrations.

Royal Enfield was next in line holding sixth place, now a massively upstart brand that barely registered in league tables three years ago. Others are diluting the hegemony of long-term dominations too, without mentioning a creeping tide of zero-emissions interlopers.

KTM followed, losing 27.4%, pursued by Lexmoto, in turn 7.2% down. Then Ducati shone, a healthy 11.5% up and trouncing former mainstream act Suzuki, which was last to take the top-ten chequered flag — an ignominious 45.4% in arrears.      

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