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Motorcyclists say ‘no’ to ban on new petrol-powered bikes

A FEMA survey shows that a possible ban on the sale of new petrol-powered motorcycles is rejected by more than 90 percent of the motorcyclists that took part in the survey.

In July and August 2021 FEMA conducted an online survey on motorcycle emissions and a possible ban on the sale of new petrol-powered motorcycles. The survey was available in 12 languages and was filled out by 23,768 people (1,188 women and 22,580 men).

When asked ‘What do you think about a possible ban on the sale of new petrol-powered motorcycles?’, 92.91% of the motorcyclists that responded rejected such a ban. There are differences between countries, but the disapproval rate of a possible ban on the sale of new petrol-powered motorcycles does not fall below 80% in any European country.

In comparison to the survey FEMA conducted in 2016, we see a larger group of motorcyclists that would be willing to buy a newer motorcycle if older bikes (pre-2006) were to be banned from entering the city (55.46% in 2021, against 44% in 2016). Of the respondents over 44% would consider another mode of transport if such a ban occurred, which could lead to a major mobility shift in certain cities. This could be an even larger issue when city authorities decide to ban fossil fuel vehicles from entering the city, because in that case over 76% of the respondents would change their mode of transport, rather than switching to a non-emissions motorcycle (electric/fuel cell). This could have drastic effects on urban mobility as we know it.

A large majority (88.75%) of those that would be willing to switch to a non-emissions motorcycle in the case of banning fossil fuel vehicles from entering the city, is not willing to pay more for such a motorcycle than for a motorcycle with a combustion engine that runs on fossil fuels.

When asked what they would do If the sale of new petrol-powered motorcycles was banned, a majority of 53.38% would stop riding when they are no longer able to buy a new petrol-powered motorcycle. 38.96% of the respondents would buy a zero-emission motorcycle when there are no new or used petrol-powered motorcycles available anymore. Only 7.67% would already buy a zero-emission motorcycle when there are still petrol-powered motorcycles available.

When asked if they could you enjoy a non-emission bike as much as their current bike, if a total ban on all fossil fuel vehicles would be introduced, or if they would stop riding, 58.92% would stop riding. This is a major change in attitude since 2016, when 46% of the respondents said they would stop riding. Of the respondents, 41.08% could enjoy riding a non-emission motorcycle, against 54% in 2016.

Click here for all results from the survey.

The current plans from the European Commission and some national governments to limit the sale and the use of fossil-fuelled vehicles lead to more questions than there are answers at the moment. How realistic is it to rely fully on electric vehicles? Will there be enough electric vehicles on the market, will there be enough electricity, will there be enough charging points, will the grid be able to deal with the extra demand, will electric bikes ever get sufficient range? And how about e-fuels? Can those be developed to a level where they can compete with the fossil fuels we know today, if we look at the cost and effectiveness? Will all these alternatively-fuelled vehicles be affordable for the average user?

FEMA’s general secretary Dolf Willigers said: “Motorcycles are becoming more fuel economic and cleaner. Compared with cars, that tend to use more fuel and that use more space to drive and park, especially in the cities, motorcycles are becoming much more economic and less pollutant than they already are. We see a bright future for motorcycles and other powered two-wheelers, provided that the European Commission and the British government leave room for the internal combustion engine for motorcycles. With the non-fossil fuels that are already in development, motorcycles will stay affordable and become clean and CO2 neutral.”

FEMA president Anna Zee said: “Several national governments are considering a future ban on the sale of vehicles with internal combustion engines, a development that may have a huge impact on our choice of vehicle and on our lifestyle. Although FEMA understands and supports the further development and integration of electric vehicles, we will work for a future with electric motorcycles and motorcycles with an internal combustion engine side by side.”

The motorcycle industry seems to focus on producing electric powered two-wheelers for urban use and is not (yet) producing significant numbers of bikes that could possibly replace the current fleet of larger bikes. Antonio Perlot, the secretary general for ACEM, the European Association of Motorcycle Manufacturers, told FEMA: “ACEM expects that the predominant share of the urban mobility powered two-wheeler market will be electric by 2030, with increasing spill overs on the whole motorcycle range towards 2050. Needless to say, whilst established manufacturers are also entering the electric motorcycle segment, for most pure electrification is focusing mainly on smaller, short range vehicles, aimed mainly at the urban environment, where the perspective of higher volumes is in line with their industrial dimension.” Click here to read the full ACEM statement.

Written by Wim Taal

Portraits by Wim Taal

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