As with North America - European Motorcycle Sales Face Tough Ride

According to the latest figures, sales of motorcycles in Europe appear to be riding into the head wind as the North American markets.

Sales in Europe have been traditionally tracked by the registering of new vehicles. The latest numbers for motorcycle registrations show a decrease of 5.1% compared to the same period of 2016. Reported by the European Association of Motorcycle Manufacturers (ACEM), the group is taking a positive view by looking back to a longer period and use the phrase of ‘steady growth.’

“Vehicle registrations in Europe have slightly declined during the first 9 months of 2017 in comparison to the same period of 2016,” explains Antonio Perlot, Secretary General of ACEM. “From a longer time horizon, however, the moped and motorcycle fleet – that is the total number of vehicles circulating on the streets – increased from about 30.3 million units (2006) to 35.3 million units (2015)”.

A long look. Motorcycle registrations are the orange line - Source ACEM

As far as the integrity of the numbers, they are compiled by the European Association of Motorcycle Manufacturers (ACEM) which represents manufacturers of mopeds, motorcycles, three-wheelers and quadricycles. ACEM members include 18 manufacturing companies: BMW Motorrad, Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP), Ducati Motor holding, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, KYMCO, MV Agusta, Peugeot Scooters, Piaggio, Polaris Industries, Renault, Royal Enfield, Suzuki, Triumph Motorcycles and Yamaha. ACEM also represents 17 motorcycle industry associations in 14 different European countries.

There are some European countries still bitten by the biker-bug. Looking at registrations over the first nine months of 2017, Italy remains the largest European motorcycle market with 177,336 units (that’s up +6.4%) which is followed by France enjoying 132,950 motorcycle registrations, an increase of 2.4%. BMW Motorrad must wonder where the love is as motorcycle registrations fell -11.7% in Germany, Spain saw 105,184 motorcycles registered making that a 8.5% decrease and in the UK the numbers were down by 15.4% with a total of 80,222 motorcycles.

As cool as BMW's R Nine T is, registrations for the German manufacturer slowed in 2017

Motorcycles are taking the brunt of slowing two wheeled sales. The ACEM follows registrations of mopeds, motorcycles and three-wheelers and overall the decrease is 1.6%, compared to the motorcycle segment decrease of 5.1%.

Aside from the long-term ‘steady growth’ there are other silver linings. New riders are taking to the saddle for pleasure and not as a means of transportation.

“Our latest registration figures show an increase in the number of motorcycles used for leisure purposes in several European markets,” Perlot explains. “These vehicles are mainly bought for the pleasure of riding itself, although they also offer a ‘cross over’ function and are also often used for commuting”.

This slowing trend has European motorcycle manufacturers doing exactly what their American counterparts are, looking to Asia as a region for potentially robust sales.

“There are also important opportunities to increase sales out of the European Union. About 80% of all motorcycles and mopeds in the world are used in Asian countries, which offer an enormous market potential for our industry.”

Unfortunately, as the ACEM report notes, restrictive trade practices in many Asian countries are making it difficult to ride into those markets.

Italians continue to love their motorcycles with the country leading the way in new sales

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