Motorcycle manufacturers are struggling right now to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Numerous plants have been forced to shut down, participation in motorcycle shows have been canceled, sales have been put to a dead stop with showroom closures. Another problem that major motorcycle brands are facing is the implementation of the new Euro 5 emission reduction standards. Production halts experienced by brands around Europe such as MV Agusta, KTM and BMW factories are now making them call for an extension of the deadline. Influential figures in the motorcycle industry from Italy, one of the countries hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, are citing supply chain slowdowns and retail shutdowns as justification for delaying the new emissions standards to almost a year. The looming Euro 5 deadline is set for January 2021.
In India, where they have their own set of emissions standards similar to that of the Euro 5, implementation of their new BS-6 regulations standards forced manufacturers to discontinue selling certain motorcycles from their market. This would include the Suzuki Hayabusa, and the Yamaha R3, forcing them to cut these models from their current lineup.
In Europe, one of the most lucrative motorcycle markets in the world, industry leaders are fearing that failing to meet the deadlines of complying with the Euro 5 standards will cause most motorcycle manufacturers to have a backlog of unsold models in warehouses particularly those still using Euro 4 emissions standards. Paolo Magri, Business Director of Brembo stated, “The closure of the shops, however, will prevent the sale of all Euro 4 approved vehicles.” He added, “With consequent increase in the stock held in the warehouse, the risk is real that at the end of the year, manufacturers and dealers will find themselves at home with a mass of vehicles that, by law, can no longer be marketed.”
Under the current rule, manufacturers can only sell Euro 4 approved motorcycles up to ten percent of the same type registered in the two previous years or up to 100 vehicles per type per member state. If the deadline still remains, manufacturers will have until 2022 to sell Euro 4 compliant motorcycles. If the European Union pushes back the deadline, Euro 4 motorcycles will remain in the market longer and we’ll see a faster reduction of unsold motorcycles in their warehouses. ACEM, the European Association of Motorcycle Manufacturers issued a written statement calling out governments and EU officials to ease the Euro 5 deadline.
The COVID-19 crisis is placing dealerships, most of which are small family-run operations, under extreme financial hardship. Against this background, the motorcycle industry urgently calls on the European Commission and national administrations to swiftly adopt all necessary measures to help the sector come through this unprecedented crisis.
Surely it will be argued that emission standards would go a long way to reduce pollution and climate change on one hand. We have been seeing clearer skies and more breathable air especially now that there are fewer vehicles on the roads. On the other hand, we have an industry with particular motorcycle manufacturers that could be hanging by the thread at this very moment. Between saving an industry from economic uncertainty and preserving the standards to ensure that our future generations would have cleaner air, only time will tell us which course of action the policymakers of the European Union shall take following the requests.