Registrations stagnant overall, steady as she goes for used.
According to the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA), registrations recorded a slight decline in October, of 1.6% for two wheelers. This brings the year to date position 1.9% ahead of last year. It has without doubt, been a challenging year for the industry and many dealers feel this is likely to continue next year, especially given the latest developments within the political landscape. The latest mixed feedback from dealer visits shows a slight majority suggesting demand appeared behind that of last year despite more registrations.
Following a delayed start to the season, a result of cold weather through late winter into spring, the great summer more than made up for this. In view of the slow start, there was hope for an extended season this year. However, although Autumn has provided a degree of fair riding conditions, a number of dealers hold the view that the market failed to recover following the summer holiday period when it typically quietens. However, some respondents did experience a strong October.
2017 vs 2018
- Selling in small volumes, Sports Tourers once again enjoyed the strongest percentage growth in October, 33.8% ahead of last year
- Naked machines recorded another healthy increase with registrations 10.9% ahead of the same period last year
- Following a few months of decline, Adventure Sports resumed growth in October at 9.5%
- It was a better month for scooters, too, experiencing a 7.2% uplift, compared to 3.7% in September
- Touring machines recorded a decline of 14.7% in October; these are low volume sellers and are sensitive to changes.
- It was not a good month for custom bikes, with registrations seeing a dip of 23.3%
- Mopeds once again suffered the largest downturn in October at 27.2%
During October, a number of larger selling categories recorded growth, namely scooters, nakeds and adventure sports. This was better news as in recent times growth has been mainly been restricted to modest selling categories. However, it is possible that pre-registering has contributed to the increase. That said there are some popular machines within these segments including the Honda Africa Twin, BMW R1200 GS Adventure, Kawasaki Z900RS and Honda PCX125.
What was hot in October?
- Yamaha MT range continues to be buoyant
- Triumph Tiger 800/1200 are strong sellers
- Kawasaki Z900RS retains its success
- Honda Africa Twins remain a popular choice
- Suzuki V-Strom has sold well this year
What can the industry expect moving forward?
With just two months of 2018 remaining and year to date registrations a shade below 2% ahead of last year, the current view is that this is unlikely to change much between now and the end of the year, so a modest growth over last year looks likely. There are some good finance deals available but with winter almost here, riding conditions will inevitably deteriorate and some evidence suggests that the market quietened earlier this year compared to 2017.
Feedback from dealers was more negative in September, many holding the view that the used market was not as good as last year, albeit that is was far from being poor. Feedback during October, although mixed, suggested that demand was broadly in line or stronger than last year. Some respondents explained that there continues to be greater demand for new machines due to low rate finance deals on offer. The current turbulent political landscape is also affecting consumer confidence. A number of dealers also said the market failed to recover following the summer holidays. However, a healthy percentage of dealers reported a strong 2018 remaining confident for the year ahead.
In terms of what is selling well, there are certain machines that continue their popularity with Triumph Street Triples, Suzuki V-Strom 650’s and Yamaha Tracer currently attracting strong demand. The Adventure market remains in demand and a few respondents suggested that 600cc sports machines are attracting healthy interest, although in general the sports market has been tough for dealers.
The majority of respondents held the view that stock availability was broadly in line with last year. There are signs that depleted stock levels in the market are recovering following the period when European exports drove high numbers of quality machines away from the UK market. However, some dealers explained that they intend to proactively source stock from the market, as part-exchanges have been in short supply, partly a result of depressed new sales.