European bike sales mirror UK dip

We’re not alone in experiencing a drop-off in 2017 registrations

European bike sales mirror UK dip

THE total sales figures for motorcycles across Europe took a 9.5% dip in 2017. That’s not as severe as the 18% fall we saw in UK registrations but a look at the figures elsewhere shows that our market is by no means the only one to have suffered.

Overall motorcycle sales in Europe in 2017 stood at 913,723 compared to 1,009,678 in 2016. However, the figure is still significantly higher than 2015’s total of 891,369.

Of the five largest markets – the UK being Europe’s fifth-biggest for motorcycles – only two bucked the overall trend. France and Italy saw small increases in registrations, while Germany and Spain joined the UK in seeing a sales decline. As a result, Italy has regained its usual position as Europe’s second-biggest motorcycle market, after France, a spot that it briefly conceded to Germany following 2016’s sales round-up.

However, it’s worth noting that both France and Italy have yet to get anywhere near their pre-financial-crisis levels of sales. In fact, during 2017 both those nations had motorcycle sales still well below their 2010 levels, while the UK’s are much higher than they were during the depths of recession.

Looking at the graph, you’ll see that the UK’s bike sales trend over the last seven years has perfectly matched that of Germany. That suggests there’s been no Brexit influence on sales yet.

The industry’s explanation for 2017’s drop in sales is that 2016 figures were artificially boosted as manufacturers offloaded Euro3-spec machines prior to the introduction of Euro4 rules in January 2017. Large numbers of bikes were either sold at a discount or pre-registered to dodge the rule change. The resulting boom in 2016 registrations led to an inevitable decline in 2017.

The fact that sales in Germany and Spain mirrored those in the UK, while Italy and France also saw a slowdown in growth, suggests that the analysis is correct.

Early signs show that 2018 is bouncing back, with UK sales in January up 12.9% compared to the previous year.