March sees positive motorcycle sales figures

Despite the much chewed over credit-crunch, we're still buying bikes by the bucket-load

THE MOTORCYCLE industry is in an upbeat mood with powered two wheeler registrations in March and the first quarter of the year holding up well.

Registrations last month were only 3.2 per cent down on the same month last year at 18,624. Over the first three months of the year the market is just 2.2 per cent down with a total of 30,694 registrations. To add a little more perspective, although March 2008 is down on March 2007, it is still over 10 per cent up on March 2006 and puts the industry on track to exceed 140,000 PTW registrations for the second year in succession.

“On the one hand, people are increasingly concerned about the economy. Rising prices, worries about the housing market and the credit crunch are making people feel uneasy about spending,” said Craig Carey-Clinch of the Motor Cycle Industry Association (MCIA).

“But this could well have a positive impact on the PTW market. Record petrol prices, rising household bills, high taxation and widespread gloom could well make people think very carefully about their transport needs. Time wasted in congestion, expensive and uncomfortable public transport, high parking and congestion charges and the massive costs of car ownership make a moped, scooter or motorcycle increasingly attractive.

“A PTW is a real and viable alternative that can cut journey times, is easier to park, low cost to run and helps cut CO2 emissions. There’s probably never been a stronger reason to switch to two wheels.”

The naked and touring categories showed gains of 17.7 and 23.7 per cent respectively with the Kawasaki Z1000 and Honda NT 700V Beauville the biggest sellers, although the motorcycle sector was 4.2 per cent down in March and 3.3 per cent down in the first quarter.

Moped registrations were up for the month by 4.3 per cent and 3.3 per cent for the first quarter. Scooter registrations dropped marginally in the month by 2.4 per cent. The biggest selling manufacturer in March was Honda, followed by Suzuki and Yamaha.

Another factor likely to be influencing the market is changes later this year that will make it more complex to gain a PTW licence. In 2006 51,000 new riders gained licences with an estimated 57,000 additional new riders last year. The MCIA says that more than 70,000 could take tests this year in a bid to beat the changes. The industry has a special web site at to help guide people through the test process.

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