Latest news coming out of the USA over the last week or so would suggest that Harley Davidson have not been getting a fair rub of the green recently…some of its own making and some by forces external.
Only recently did the business make public their last quarter of 2018 poor results with many citing Donal Trump’s administration policies on imports and exports and EU tariff policies as the main cause of their recent poor performance.
Their stock value has severely reduced whilst dividends are reported to have dwindled too. Whilst the business suffers in the global market and faces stiff competition from other global manufacturers, it is in the USA domestic market that many are most concerned about.
One of the main issues is that the new generation rider is not opting for the Harley Davidson brand but instead choosing British, European or Japanese brands instead with laser demands on the wallet and better suited to the street style riding that many are favouring instead of the cruiser culture.
Harley are not alone in this regard, as the whole cruiser sector has been stumbling for some time. However other brands such as resurgent American manufacturer; Indian, are starting to claw some ground back and Harley are suffering for it too…as well as the challenges from the likes of Triumph and Ducati…not to mention the big four from Japan too.
Whilst Harley have responded in recent years to diversify away from the ‘old man’ rider with their Street Motorcycle range, it seems the decline is there for all to see. Only this week however, the company had to issue a major recall of all Street Motorcycles manufactured between May 2015 and Dec 2018 due to corrosion found within the brake calliper piston bores which could lead to brake dragging, thus dramatically reducing braking performance. This could take months to resolve and cost the company millions of dollars, which is the last thing they need at this moment…in business terms.
However, Harley Davidson have a massive stake in the global motorcycle market and almost half of the American market still. So whilst there is a decline, next generation Harley riders may be harder to find…and international trade may be having a negative affect on the current business…the company are still the big bully on the street and if the decline has set in, it may yet take decades before the company get into bankruptcy level problems.
As with any business in the current climate, they face huge challenges to get back on track. They have been making the right noises and overtly looking to the future too with their lesser priced and smaller engined Street Motorcycles and not to mention their new electric motorcycle: Livewire
Will it be enough though to capture new market and sales? Can they tap into what the next generation rider is looking to buy and essentially what kind of riding experience he or she will want to have? That is their greatest challenge to date.