Update on the Impact of COVID-19 to the global motorcycle industry

In May 2022, the WHO reported that more than half a billion COVID-19 cases have been officially confirmed and more than 6.2 million deaths were registered due to the infection. After two years of pandemic, the overall highest peak of new infections was in January this year. Since then, the number of new infections has been significantly declining in most regions of the world.

The global COVID-19 pandemic triggered one of the worst economic recessions in 50 years, with the transport sector being one of the most affected. One year ago, IMMA issued a short overview on the impact of the COVID-19 to the Motorcycle Industry.

The COVID-19 pandemic halted the markets through a series of waves in 2020, 2021 and 2022. The effects to society and industry were worsened through additional overlapping global crises. The factory closings resulted in a global shortage of semiconductors and supply chain disruptions. Needless to say, what ensued was price increases of electronics, energy and primary materials, such as steel, aluminum and precious metals, therefore significantly impacting the vehicle industries. COVID-19 further aggravated the concerns of vehicle affordability in some markets that were already affected by new safety and or emission requirements. The eventual outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war in 2022 further exacerbated the situation. A possible resurgence of COVID urges the automotive industry and policy makers to remain very vigilant.

The two years of COVID-19 waves and brief recoveries demonstrated that the benefits of PTWs were recognized by individual mobilists as well as service providers due to their affordability, flexibility, and efficiency in traffic. In 2020, after the initial lockdown, consumers turned to motorcycling staying socially distanced and active. In this regard, PTWs started competing with public transport systems. In 2021, markets with a high usage of motorcycles for recreational purposes proved more resilient. This is in contrast to markets where PTWs are used primary as means of mobility, such as India, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and many others. In such countries, demand is still significantly behind pre-COVID situations due to the continued economic challenges and reduced household spending.

With affordability being key in low and medium income regions, such as India and Southeast Asia, two wheelers have a better market share in terms of numbers over four wheelers. Its demand, however, remains behind as it is mirrored to both economic growth and energy and fuel price. The continued inflation is expected to pose a challenging climate, postponing a recovery.

In conclusion, after two years of COVID-19, concerns over the pandemic seem to be replaced with the ones over prices and shortages of staple food, components, energy and geopolitical stability. The pandemic demonstrated that the recreational use of powered two wheelers increased and that PTWs are favored by owners of delivery service businesses. However, and especially in low- and medium-income countries struggling to recover after the pandemic, the PTWs market is staying strongly behind. The benefits and the sustainable role of powered two wheelers should be recognized by policy makers. Motorcycle mobility deserves positive attention, it deserves policy support. Supportive policies to PTW-mobility will assist the economies to restart, providing access to work, health and leisure.

On the continued challenges to the sector, IMMA President Mr Rakesh Sharma said: 

“Two years of COVID-19 Pandemic demonstrated the resilience of mobilists recognizing motorcycles a convenient and affordable mobility and delivery tool. Though market developments in some regions are encouraging, the accumulation of global crises requires us to be vigilant. IMMA and its members, the national and regional associations continue to be engaged in a constructive dialogue with their respective authorities and partners in in the regions in order to assist to a swift recovery of the economy”.