The internet sure does love a conspiracy theory and there were questions being asked of the American motorcycle company’s strategy to reveal it products for 2021 so late compared to all other motorcycle manufacturers.
There is no denying that Harley-Davidson has been going through some tough times of late and were a corporation of diminishing returns even before the global pandemic took hold. However whilst the movers and shakers within the corridors of H-D power have had their runs in with the Trump administration in recent years, many are seeing the Biden presidency as also a new era for the American brand.
In the last few years, the lines between lifestyle, politics and branding have become blurred with the Trump gaining favour amongst many American bikers and who also proudly supported the H-D brand. Perhaps the dissection wasn’t as clear cut initially but it soon evolved. Now those same supporters of the brand may face a challenging time in support of a company that now favours a new president with new political motivations.
The landscape has changed for Harley-Davidson, as it has for many of its customer base. Dealerships have struggled to remain open for business, some having to close their doors forever and even whole countries have seen the brand pull out too. 2020 was certainly a year of many changes and consolidation for a company still trying to find the best path forward for future prosperity.
Under the ‘Rewire’ program, the company under the new CEO; Jochen Zeitz has ditched many of its products for 2021, delayed new models, have centred their market place and look to capitalise on the new wave that will be forthcoming on the 20th January 2021…a day after they launch their new line up.
Dealerships in the US have already received some models which they are already selling, but these are those bikes which have not had substantial changes from the previous year. The models that will feature in the big launch on the 19th January will be available thereafter. However supply lines are still in disarray for many dealerships not in the favoured column, nor further afield from their core market in the US. In fact in Europe, there is still a long waiting list for basic parts and new models are somewhere in the pipeline but exactly where…nobody seems to know.
Harley-Davidson is a company in transition, albeit move slowly right now. It has to work with whichever government it can to suit its own gains and it has to hope that its business and others like it do not fall foul of some political bargaining between countries who play with trade tariffs like a hand at poker.
Is the model launch a mere coincidence being one day ahead of the US presidential inauguration? Perhaps so, but it needs to hit a high note with all parties. From those who would support the values of the old administration and those that would seek change at all costs…and also those who would rather the politics were left outside of the motorcycle business and lifestyle world altogether. Time is up and the new era of Harley-Davidson is upon us. The question is can they deliver?