International Dealer News IDN 133 October/November 2016 - Page 4

• COMMENT • COMMENT • COMMENT • COMMENT • COMMENT • COMMENT • Statistics, Safety and Shows s the motorcycle industry in Europe gears-up for a multiple dose of Expo activity in October and November, the motorcycle registrations news from most of Europe’s primary markets is positive, and the rapidly evolving technology landscape in which we find ourselves means that these are exciting and significant times. With C-ITS and much more on the horizon (as discussed at ACEM’s September conference), tackling the issue of motorcycle safety and the place of PTWs in the European road traffic accident fatality statistics is a timely initiative. Timely because the next generation of technology can make a real difference to motorcycle accident prevention and outcomes. In the “kaizen” that is the management of large-scale economic impactors, though our humble little backwater of the capitalist world may not appear to amount to much, replicated a hundred times the economic benefits (to say nothing of the social, emotional and practical impacts) of reducing motorcycle fatalities becomes significant. When motorcycle safety and the apparent and glaringly disproportionate role of motorcycling in the accident statistics first started to come to the EU’s attention a decade ago, Riders’ Rights groups (in particular) were vocal in their opposition to those who wished the two-wheel lifestyle ill. As that opposition started to find its expression in research and hard facts, and in sensible and serious proposals to respect and protect a group of consumers who account to close to 10 percent of tax paying, voting age EU citizens, the EU started to take notice of riders, and from being a part of the problem, the recent ACEM conference showed just how far the EU’s opinion of motorcyclists has travelled in the past decade. They are now “vulnerable road users” with every right to expect the same consideration from regulators, transport policy makers and other road users as that given to car drivers, bicycle users and pedestrians. s manufacturers start to evolve systems that will contribute to improved customer safety and, importantly, do so without compromising the riding experience, we have yet another group of reasons to be optimistic about the twowheel lifestyle’s future, and yet another marginal gain by which our industry’s ability to survive and thrive becomes ever more assured. Yes, the riding experience will be different, but it has always evolved, it has never stood still, and neither should it. Much has been written about the scale and nature of the changes that have taken place in the motorcycle industry in the past decade, and they have been “off the scale”. But although the statistical recovery seen so far cannot yet be regarded as “game changing”, the changes to the landscape in which the motorcycle industry now finds itself in product design and quality, regulatory, technology and policy terms is a massively changed game. However, the recovery in new motorcycle registrations can now be regarded as “robust” - further improvement from the signs seen when the industry was getting ready for INTERMOT in 2014. At that stage it looked as if the first signs of an end to market decline seen in the second half of 2013 could well result in an at worst “flat” market in 2014, and A so it proved. That provided the foundation for the growth seen overall by the end of 2015. Indeed, it does now look like the modest growth we are seeing will sustain through 2016. his month’s ‘StatZone’ includes the ACEM EU data to the end of July, in addition to many of the major individual markets’ August data. That report shows the cumulative growth of sales month-on-month so far this year, but we have also included the sales graph from 2008 through to the end of 2015. The dramatic, alarming, potentially fatal market decline seen for so long is clearly now arrested, and the change seen in 2014 and 2015 should become a three-year trend in three months’ time. What that graph also shows, however, is the recovery being strongest not at the budget end of motorcycling, but at the “top end” in terms of larger displacements and higher retail value machines. This means our still yet relatively modest three-year recovery in unit number terms will have had a disproportionately positive impact on dealership revenues and on the budgets that the manufacturers have to further push the envelope of technology and safety. The market is on the cusp of entering a virtuous cycle of improvement that is the exact reverse of the cycle of decline that we tumbled into a decade ago. As the machines get better, as the reasons to ride become ever increasingly undeniable, and as the price points consumers are willing to pay for higher quality continue to improve, then the cycle could become self-perpetuating. The better and safer the manufacturers can make the machines, and the safer and better policy makers and regulators make the riding environment, then the more units we’ll sell and the more consumers will want to buy. When it comes to “better products at better prices” there are, famously, two ways to interpret the dynamic. There is an inexorable drive towards wanting to see better ownership solutions available at lower price points for everything we buy, but there is also that well know