The Covid-19 pandemic has had profound effects on just about every sector of the modern global economy. Everyone, it seems, has been touched in some way or other, and for the most part it’s been bad news. For the automotive industry, a persistent slump in demand has posed a considerable challenge. Why, after all, should those working from home make the decision to invest in a new car, or a new van?
For some sections of the motoring industry, however, things have looked rosy. A boom in staycations has lead to a spike in demand for caravans, for example. Among the beneficiaries have been manufacturers of scooters and mopeds, as well as insurers who provide specialised cover for these vehicles.
Many commuters have been looking to avoid public transport for the sake of social distancing. And the investment in a moped provides a cost-effective way of doing this. While motorbike registrations fell by 6.7% over 2020, scooter registrations actually surged by 10.5%. Toward the end of October, Halfords recorded a growth in demand for e-scooters of around 450% – this before the announcement of the second lockdown.
Much of the interest was concentrated in the early months of the lockdown. At the time, Auto Trader reported that views for moped advertisements had risen 32% year-on-year in the last week of May, and around 48% during the first week of June. The trend peaked in September, when more than a thousand new scooters and mopeds were sold.
Mopeds make a great match for solo city commuters, who need to travel short distances without spending a huge amount on fuel. They’re nimble enough to get around traffic, and they’re much more easily stored than a car might be, especially in big cities where parking comes at a hefty premium.
While cities across Asia and Europe might be packed with mopeds, the vehicle has yet to achieve quite the same popularity in the UK. Nevertheless, the surge represents a win for manufacturers during what has been a very tough time.
While the second and third lockdowns have taken their toll on demand in aggregate, sales are now back on the rise. In a time when more and more British workers need to find a way to get to work, it might be that the moped provides exactly that. Moreover, it might be that many of those workers choose to persist with their two-wheeled habit long after the virus ceases to be a concern.