MOTORCYCLE sales went from bad to worse in 2017, with December showing the biggest decline in what was already looking like a dismal year.
Figures from the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) show total new motorcycles registrations – the best indication of sales – were down 51.3% in December compared to the same month in 2016.
It’s the biggest year-on-year decline of any month in 2017 and also pushed overall sales performance for the year to its lowest point.
The figures show year-to-date sales – that’s the number for motorcycles sold since the beginning of 2017 – were down 18.5% compared to the year before. It represents 22,000 fewer motorcycles sold in 2017 than 2016, at 96,943 compared 118,976.
Year-to-date sales have been down throughout 2017 but the decline has become sharper since July, when it was 13.3%.
Those figures don’t include mopeds, sales of which were down 59.1% in December and 11.6% for the year.
The Motorcycle Industry Association pointed to the introduction of new emission limits as a contributor to the decline in registrations, along with the effect of Brexit on consumer confidence.
December 2016 was the deadline to register machines not meeting the latest Euro4 emission limits, meaning some will have been pre-registered by dealers that month to sell in 2017. As those machines were sold last year, they would not have contributed to the latest registration figures.
MCIA CEO Tony Campbell said the long-term market trend remained positive.
He said: 'Phasing out Euro3 for new bikes definitely caused a distortion in the market. We estimate between 12,000 and 15,000 extra new machines were registered in 2016 to meet the December 31 deadline and that in a normal market, these would have been registered during 2017. This was particularly evident in December. Uncertainty around Brexit may also have affected consumer confidence, but the long term indicators for motorcycle and scooter use are good.
'Government tables show that the number of powered two wheelers registered for the road has been steadily increasing and you have to go back to the peak of 2009 to find higher numbers. The number of people taking motorcycle tests has also been going up annually for the past four years.'