Press Release: Economic significance of the UK motorcycle industry revealed in new study


The motorcycle industry contributes billions of pounds to the UK economy each year, according to a report published today.  The Economic Benefits of the UK Motorcycle Industry 2014 calculates that:

  • £5.3billion is generated through net annual sales, with an added value of £2billion
  • The industry directly employs 58,500 people in 5,700 businesses, plus an additional 16,400 jobs through motorcycle businesses purchasing goods and services from other UK sectors
  • Pays over a £billion in tax
  • Exports equal around £450 million each year, up 12% in real terms since 2008  
  • Tourism associated with motorcycling is estimated to support an additional 13,200 jobs
  The report breaks down the industry by five sectors, which include:
  • Manufacturing
  • Distribution and retail
  • Repair, servicing and maintenance
  • Sports and leisure
  • Support services, which include finance and insurance
   It shows that the £2billion ‘added value’ generated by the motorcycle industry is more than the following industries:
  • Retailers of automotive fuels, lubricants and cooling products (£1.2billion)
  • Call centres (£1.4billion)
  • Performing arts (£1.5billion)
  • PR and communications activities (£1.3billion)
  The number of jobs supported by the industry is more than:
  • Taxi driving (36,000)
  • Manufactures of pharmaceuticals (50,000)
  • Agriculture, forestry and fishing activities (46.000)
  • Manufacture of textiles (47,000)
  Social benefits:
  • Saves the NHS several million pounds a year through voluntary ‘blood biker’ services, couriering life saving products
  • Used by emergency services to cut through traffic
  • Addresses transport poverty through Wheels to Work schemes
About the report
The report was commissioned by the Motorcycle Industry Association as an update to a similar one published in 2010.  It was produced by ICF Consulting Services Ltd and brings together some key data on the economic contribution made by the industry and identifies long term trends such as increased motorcycle use.  It also assesses the impact of tourism expenditure and estimates the number of jobs supported as a result (see section 5).

The market
The report states that the motorcycle industry has ‘demonstrated resilience’, despite difficult economic conditions.  Motorcycle retail and distribution was hit in line with other retail sectors during the economic downturn.  Sales declined during this period, exports actually increased slightly. 

After a period of bottoming out, new registrations have begun to climb.  In 2014 they were up around 10%, with similar rates of growth in the first quarter of 2015.

UK Manufacturing
The report shows around 3000 people in the UK are employed in the manufacture of high quality motorcycles, components, clothing, accessories and fuel.  Triumph plays a major part in contributing to these figures, but the report also highlights the contribution of a number of smaller high value high performance manufacturers including Norton, CCM and Métisse.  There are also UK businesses involved in the development and manufacture of electrical and other low carbon motorcycles. These include Agility Global, which makes a high performance electric sports bike and Intelligent Energy, which is working with Suzuki to develop the first commercial fuel cell vehicle.

CEO Steve Kenward says this document should be read by all those making policy decisions about transport:

“There are now nearly twice as many motorcycles licensed (and license exempt) for the road  than there were 20 years ago and the general trajectory for motorcycle use is upwards.  Around a third of all new registrations are for smaller motorcycles, likely to be used for commuting, and we see this as an increasing trend  with motorcycles helping to tackle congestion as part of a low carbon future."

Editors notes:

The report is available online here:[press-release-25]Economic-Benefits-of-the-UK-Motor-Cycle-Industry-2014---Final-Report-2%20(10).pdf

Though the report was finished in January, this is the first time it has been published.


The overall approach to the industry analysis has been to use a combination of official statistics from the Annual Business Survey (ABS), Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES), the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) and other sources, existing data from the MCIA and other industry organisations, supplemented by consultations with industry representatives, including surveys of motorcycle businesses undertaken as part of this study and a previous study in 2010.