EUROPEAN MANUFACTURERS SEEK REGULATORY STABILITY AND A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD IN FOREIGN MARKETS
February 3 2010.

The financial and economic crisis, which hit public finances, businesses, employment and households, took a heavy toll on the motorcycle industry in Europe as well. Registrations of Powered Two-Wheelers (PTWs) plunged in the final quarter of 2008, and for 2009, a drop in the range of -25% was recorded.

During its yearly conference held on 28 January ACEM, the European association of motorcycle manufacturers, gathering representatives of the industry, managers and officials from the European Institutions in Brussels, called for a common strategy to overcome the crisis and move towards recovery.

Fall in demand of PTWs gave way to a decline in production, putting high pressure on manufacturers and on employment. In this climate of uncertainty, exacerbated by the import of low-cost products from Asian countries, the European Commission is preparing to submit a proposal for a new technical regulation for the type-approval of PTWs. In Europe the PTW sector employs 150,000 people with a turnover of Euro 34 billion.

Just over a year ago, ACEM announced a series of initiatives focusing on environment and road safety. Despite the crisis, ACEM members are determined to keep these commitments, also considering the European Commission's upcoming EU 2020 strategy, aiming to boost the economy and employment.

But to achieve these objectives, the motorcycle manufacturers are urging European policy makers to outline a dedicated strategy for the short and medium term, underlining the importance of strengthening Europe as a destination for investments. In this regard, Gabriele Del Torchio, CEO of Ducati, has underscored the need for supportive measures for the PTW industry calling for swift action to ensure that the European industry is in the best position when the recovery starts.

During the ACEM Conference Giacomo Mattinò, deputy head of the automotive industry unit at DG Enterprise, announced that the Commission's proposal, due in April, will have environmental and road safety objectives, while taking into account the lead time required by industry to adapt production.

Bern Lange MEP, who chaired the conference, underlined the need of ambitious targets however he also acknowledged that the industry requires a clear roadmap with sufficient leadtime if these goals are to be collectively achieved.

To restore confidence it is necessary to address several issues: a new European regulatory framework for PTWs must be justified by a long-term perspective and be based on a cost-benefit analysis. This approach will ensure regulatory stability and simplification, providing the industry with a sensible timeframe and sufficient flexibility to develop new products meeting costumers' demand.

Innovative technologies, especially with regard to urban mobility, are already on the market with more efficient vehicles, hybrids, three-wheelers and advanced braking systems becoming increasingly available. If electric motorcycles are soon to be a reality in the market place, fiscal incentives and the presence of recharging stations will be crucial to stimulate demand. Much depends on the infrastructure and policy-makers still have an important role to play.

The ACEM conference provided the opportunity to address the issue of imported products from emerging markets like China and the serious concerns they are causing, due to safety and environmental flaws. In fact, these vehicles often do not meet type-approval requirements. Regarding exports, greater attention must be paid to ensure equal conditions on foreign markets.

Jacques Compagne, ACEM Secretary General, said: "We are pleased with the close collaboration established with the European Commission in the context of the future PTW regulation. The Commission has acknowledged the serious crisis faced by the industry, as well as the opportunities it represents for the European economy. The PTW Industry is ready to play its part provided the objectives are achievable and foresee a reasonable lead time. Furthermore, if we want a thriving PTW industry in Europe, a level playing field has to be guaranteed, here and abroad, for all manufacturers, including those from emerging economies".