The switch to electric motorcycles shows no signs of slowing, according to recent data from the Motor Cycle Industry Association (MCIA). In a trend that mirrors the growing public acceptance of electric vehicles, the MCIA saw 78% more new registrations in the year to April 2020. That’s 1,690 new electric motorcycles or scooters – with just 948 registered during the previous year.
In normal market conditions, however, it can be argued that growth would’ve been higher still. Like all areas of the sector, the MCIA figures do take account of a wider slowdown in new sales and registrations. Year-on-year registration numbers for April 2020 were down by almost two-thirds. It’s little surprise, perhaps, as showrooms are kept shut by the coronavirus pandemic.
Electric mopeds prove more popular
For early adopters and advocates of alternative power, the signs are encouraging all the same. Electric mopeds continue to make up the bulk of these new registrations – with 1,034 recorded in the 12 months to April 2020. But it’s new registrations of electric motorcycle that posted the strongest increase – up nearly 200% in the rolling year reporting period.
Dig a little deeper into the data and you’ll find the driving force behind each segment’s growth too. Scooters are the most popular choice with UK riders, but sports mopeds and the on-trend naked motorcycles saw their appeal surge. In the case of naked motorcycles, the registrations of electric models shot up by 691% – eating into the overall electric motorbike market share.
London leads the electric revolution
The MCIA data doesn’t offer a breakdown of this increase in new registrations by region for the 12 months to April 2020. But it does provide an insight into regional performance for the year-to-date – albeit against the backdrop of ongoing lockdown restrictions. It’s unlikely to come as too much of a shock to learn that London is outperforming regions in terms of the numbers.
As the market returns to normal, however, is there any reason to doubt that new registrations of electric mopeds and motorbikes will rise even further? After all, the issue of climate change hasn’t gone away. And, if anything, it seems to have come closer into focus for many more as a result of coronavirus. But will this encourage more UK riders to change their buying habits?
‘Positive message’ from government
Mike Cooper, head of product-bike at motorcycle insurance specialists Carole Nash, believes it could – driven on by the efforts of the government. Cooper commented: “With sales of electric motorcycles increasing in 2019, and growth seen in early 2020, March’s budget announcement sends a positive message of encouragement of support to the future.”
In the March 2020 budget, chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled measures to help push the electric motorcycle market on from its “early stage of development” in the UK – despite the growth so far seen. This includes £129.5m more funding to extend the plug-in grant scheme for anyone thinking of buying an electric moped or motorcycle (as well as vans and taxis) until 2022-23.
It means UK riders can get £1,500 off the cost of a new electric motorcycle. It’s an incentive that should help many more make the move to alternative power. Of course, the market will take a little time to recover as things return to normal and buyer confidence returns. But the growth of electric motorcycles and mopeds surely has the momentum to go even further.