Motorcycles Continue to Roar in Europe

Great news for motorcycle manufacturers, but not so much for the likes of Vespa, Europeans continue to look to the saddle with two-wheeled sales outpacing those of its smaller cousin, the moped.

According to the latest data published today by the European Association of Motorcycle Manufacturers (ACEM) registrations of motorcycles and mopeds in the EU have increased by 9.1% in 2016 compared to the previous year. Total registrations in 2016 reached 1,307,200 units, with substantial increases in all of the largest European markets.

ACEM, the European Association of Motorcycle Manufacturers, is the trade association with members which includes 15 manufacturing companies and 17 national industry associations in 14 different European countries.

“Strong demand for light vehicles across Europe is a testament to their inherent advantages,” explained the Secretary General of ACEM, Antonio Perlot. “Mopeds, motorcycles and quadricycles have reduced purchasing and running costs, are easier to park than cars, and reduce travelling times and congestion in cities”.

However, how a motorcycle is defined is pretty broad, with anything larger than 50cc included. Going with that categorization, European registrations of motorcycles grew by 13.3% compared to 2015. The largest market for motorcycles in Europe was Italy, with 195,290 units registered.

Europeans are continuing to drift to the saddle

Those with an attention to detail will note growth in the overall category is less than that of motorcycles on their own. This is explained by a downturn in the sales of mopeds in 2016.

Aside from Italy, the countries that followed their biker passions are familiar names in this regular report.

  • 174,624 vehicles were registered in Germany which enjoyed a growth of 15.1%
  • France saw 6.6% more motorcycles sold totaling 163,335
  • 155,003 in Spain up 17%
  • 13.4% more motorcycles than the prior year were sold for a total count of 119,889

To paint a motorcycle picture of what’s on Europe’s roads nearly half of the bikes sold in 2016 were under 125 cc. One reason for the popularity of this segment, in many European countries ‘learner permits’ are issued without a full test and allow to bikers to ride the smaller engine motorcycles. Motorcycles between 126cc and 500cc don’t enjoy as much attention, accounting for only 19% of the sales in 2016. Bikes with engines rated at 500cc and up grabbed 31% of 2016 motorcycle sales with nearly 20% of those going to 500c and 1000cc machines.

As with North America, smaller engine motorcycles are doing better in Europe, but maybe not for the same reasons

It appears the ACEM used the opportunity of this annual report to weigh in on a controversial measure being proposed by the US Government. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is considered imposing a 100% tariff on motorcycles with engines displacing 51cc to 500cc imported from European manufacturers. This would affect Aprilia, Beta, BMW, Ducati, Fantic, Gas Gas, Husqvarna, KTM, Montesa, Piaggio, Scorpa, Sherco, TM and Vespa.

The tariff is in response to an international dispute over an export ban of U.S. beef which contains hormones to Europe. Not only have the American Motorcyclist Association testified against such a tariff, the ACEM also have concerns about it as well as possible trade implications from Brexit.

“Exports of motorcycles, parts and accessories to foreign countries are essential to sustaining jobs in the motorcycle sector in Europe,” the Secretary General of ACEM, Antonio Perlot noted. “In addition to a stronger domestic European market, we need a European trade policy that not only secures strategic free trade agreements with key partners but also one that prevents protectionist policies abroad."

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