We think that small motorcycles are more important now than ever!
As early as 2004, when small solo motorcycles were considered rarities on Philippine roads, we have been a big believer that they are key to the country’s development because they uplift the masses by giving them mobility, motivation, a socially enriching lifestyle and a positive outlook in life. (You can read our previous article here)
The benefits to society and to the economy from the surge of small motorcycle use have since grown through years. Its application evolving from simple commuting to motorcycle-taxi and delivery services as well as a varied leisure sport.
Moreover, more and more people in major cities have turned to motorcycles to limit the wasted time spent in daily traffic.
With the ensuing pandemic, small motorcycles are now more indespensible.
Because the motorcycle allow social distancing while travelling, its use is considered safer and therefore allowed for essential solo trips.
Ever since the Metro Manila and Luzon ECQ lockdowns started in mid-March, thousands of delivery riders have been playing important roles as they provide the movement of basic needs, such as food and medicines to most of Metro Manila’s approximately 12 million residents. They kept many food and retail businesses alive. More importantly, they are also being used by many of our frontliners.
As of today, Luzon is still under GCQ and the Metro now under MECQ. Movement of people and most work are not yet back to normal. However, more riders are now on the road again, albeit, only essentials and workers from the allowed sectors of the industry.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has announced in early May that they are pushing for bicycles and motorcycles as major forms of transportation for the masses to ensure social distancing.
Looking into the future when the lockdown is eventually lifted and the economy returns to its near full capacity once again, the small motorcycle will be needed more than they are today, at least in congested Metro Manila and other major cities around the country like Cebu.
By then, even if the usual cramped public transportation systems (PUJ, PUV, buses and trains) will be allowed to operate, it will be at reduced capacities to maintain social distancing.
Unless a vaccine is developed and made immediately available for all commuters, there will be a big transport shortage in the near future and for a significant length of time, at least in Metro Manila.
Before the pandemic, almost 8 million workers commute to and from Metro Manila everyday. Add to this the approximately 12 million residents and you have nearly 20 million people in the Metro during the day. A big percentage of that will need to move around. Even if the proposed Balik Probinsya program of the goverment takes off, it will take time for its effect to be substantially felt.
This means that the majority will turn to motorcycles for their daily transport needs. Furthermore, public anxiety to use public transportation will drive people to riding because it is a safer alternative.
Knowing how to ride a bike will be a big advantage. People who adapt early will have a bigger chance of recovering from the negative economic effects of the pandemic. Haters and critics of small motorcycles will not be able to do anything about it.
If you are a non-rider, cannot afford to pay for a taxi everyday, you have zero or only one car in your household, then you better start learning how to ride on two wheels now. Because you will need to ride a bicycle or a motorcycle at some point in the future.
It will not only be those in the lower to middle income class who will go riding, but upper middle class upwards will also dip their toes in motorcycling as it is an alternative way to move around safely.
Like it or not, in the fashionably refered to as the “New Normal” way of life, small motorcycle sales will continue its growth and will surely surpass the industry’s forecast for at least the next couple of years. Even if tandem or back riding will never be allowed again before the vaccine.
Despite no sales for almost two months during the lockdown period, we believe that the business will normalize and will recover most of the lost sales volume before the year ends as demand surges. Of course, this is assuming that the supply chain can recover just as quick.
Even now, there are many motorcycle delivery service businesses that have been established during the pandemic because of the surge in demand. Even big motorcycle-taxi operators have shifted to deliveries in order to survive.
These new motorcyclists will create a marked increase in the demand for parts, services, lubricants, tires, accessories and rider safety gears as well.
Hopefully, more infrastructure and government road regulations will be put in place favoring motorcyclists.
So could this pandemic complete the country’s shift to small motorcycles as a major form of transportation like Vietnam and Taiwan? Most likely so.
Health, safety, practicality and more importantly, affordability, will be the industry’s biggest selling point for what will be its bestselling products and models.
For the past two or three years, majority of the industry players are focused on “upgrade or new models” to entice existing riders to repurchase or be more attractive to mature new buyers.
Under this new normal, there will be the addition of a completely new and broader audience who will look into buying one. People who did not consider motorcycles until now. It could mean that completely new products maybe introduced by the different brands to cater to their needs or some of its existing models maybe adapted to suit them.
A basic, affordable, economical entry-level model (easy enough to be driven and maintained by a beginner rider with zero experience) will surely sell well. In fact, a ridiculously cheap motorcycle with a solo seat might work since back riding will not be allowed anytime soon anyway.
Just like in other industries, the motorcycle buying process and business systems will be revolutionized to achieve as much sales with minimum human face to face interaction or contact at all levels. The industry will be able to adapt well to whatever changes the pandemic will require both in the short and long term.
Eventually, it will be a big dynamic market again that will benefit the users. More importantly, there will be a much bigger portion of the general commuting population who will finally discover and experience the advantages and practicality of owning a small motorcycle.
As these new users become accustomed to riding and enjoy its benefits, it will be hard for them to completely shift away from it even if the vaccine arrives.
It is often said that Filipinos are good at bouncing back from a crisis, well we think that our country with more mobile motorcyclists will be stronger than before. Expect the recovery sooner than later.
It proves once again, just how much important they are to our country.
Small motorcycles will again uplift the masses by giving them safe mobility to earn a living, the motivation to recover from the negative effects of this pandemic, and regain a positive outlook in life.
Sounds too good to be true, but it will happen so get ready!
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