New motorcycle registrations in Europe decreased 8.9% in 2011, reaching its lowest level in a decade. And with the state of the economy in Europe, things might get worse.

According to provisional numbers released by the European Association of Motorcycle Manufacturers, Europeans registered 1.72 million motorcycles, scooters and mopeds in 2011, down from 1.89 million registrations in 2010. By comparison, the U.S. motorcycle market is showing signs of recovery, with 2011 sales increasing slightly by 0.3% compared to 2010’s figures.

The picture is even darker when you consider Europeans registered 2,757,253 vehicles in 2006, over a million more motorcycles and scooters than in 2011.

Europe’s largest motorcycle markets, France, Italy, Spain and Germany saw tremendous drop-offs in the last few years. Spain was especially hit, with 141,136 registrations in 2011 compared to 395,815 registrations in 2006, a 64% decline in just six years.

The AECM, which represents 13 OEMs hopes to turn the tide by focusing on smaller, lighter and more specialized vehicles, emphasizing the benefits of reducing congestion, solving parking problems and improving air quality. A study independent research consultants Transport & Mobility Leuven suggests traffic congestion in Europe would be reduced by 40% if just 10% of automobile drivers switched to two-wheeled transport.

“In spite of the current adverse conditions, ACEM believes that its unique know-how in developing and producing small, light and specialized vehicles will prove useful tools for sustainable mobility, in the context of the European Union’s transport objectives,” says Hendrik von Kuenheim, ACEM president and CEO of BMW Motorrad. “However, strong political support is necessary to further develop this reality and market even more innovative products. This support should start with the full acknowledgement of our products as positive contributors to mobility.”

[Source: ACEM]

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