BIKE and and scooter sales across Europe are down by 6.1% in the first quarter of 2018 compared to the same period last year.
But the news isn’t quite as clear cut as it first seems. Rather than a consistent decline across the board, the total has been dragged into the negative by an astounding collapse in the market for sub-50cc mopeds.
In fact, sales of motorcycles over 50cc have risen by 4.7% in the period, with total EU registrations hitting 203,853 in just three months. Italy is the biggest motorcycle market, followed by France, Germany, Spain and then the UK, and all those top five saw growth in the January-March period.
But for mopeds there’s a far dingier outlook. Already on the shrink, EU moped registrations could muster only 37,071 in the first three months of the year. That’s an incredible 40.2% down on the same period in 2017. The biggest moped markets – France, Holland, Italy, Belgium and Spain – all saw double-digit percentage declines. French sales were particularly poor – it’s still Europe’s biggest moped market, but 10,102 registrations in the first three months of the year represent a 41.5% drop compared to 2017.
If moped sales are going through the floor, perhaps it’s partly because buyers are increasingly turning towards electric bikes. Electric mopeds, motorcycles and quads combined saw a 51.2% increase in registrations during the first three months, although the total – 8281 sales – is still fairly low. The majority (5824) were in the moped class, an increase of 50.8% over 2017’s figure.
However, larger electric motorcycles are catching up; there were 1726 registrations of electrics that are too fast or powerful to be classed as mopeds in the first three months. That’s an impressive 118.5% increase. France leads the way here with 732 registrations, up 228% on the first quarter of 2017.
It’s likely that a chunk of the decline in moped sales is down to the increased availability and popularity of electric vehicles. As well as the increase in sales of electrically-driven mopeds and motorcycles, a lot of people who would previously have bought mopeds are likely to be turning towards electrically-assisted bicycles, which don’t need to be registered and hence don’t show up in these figures.