H-D failure to read Japanese motorcycle market?

Recently reported that Harley Davidson CEO Jochen Zeitz has pledged that their spin off company; LiveWire, which now produces all of their electric vehicles will now be taking the EV bikes to Japan in 2024… but is this yet another blunder and doomed to fail?

LiveWire sales have not exactly been high, and their high price tag has something to do with that too but also their wasn’t really an appreciation nor desire to own one from the Harley Davidson crowd.

LiveWire have a second bike coming out soon after many delays. The S2 Del Mar initially had lots of pre orders but those started to disappear amidst many delays and a growing feeling that the company wasn’t doing so well in general.

Soon after the public launch on the NYSE, investors immediately started to pull their money out, leaving H-D to help support the fledgling company…and still there are very few sales.

So what makes the CEO think that they will generate lots of EV sales in Japan when their own producers haven’t really produced many bikes beyond the prototype phase or anything bigger than scooters?

It is said that the market in Japan does not really favour electric bikes greater than the small urban commuter. So anything bigger than a scooter is not going to sell well. If Harley Davidson want to sell their high powered LiveWire One, they will likely have to give it away…and still struggle with volume movement.

So why is the CEO so fixated on EV bikes for the future of the company and why is Japan a market he believes H-D can conquer? It could be that the whole company is blinded by what they believe is the inevitable EV future but are disregarding the emergence of alternative fuels to keep the ICE bikes alive. It could also be that Zeitz feels Japan will not have any EV bikes to compare with either the higher power of the LiveWire One nor the S2 Del Mar.

That may very well be the case, but all that means that H-D will be gaining an ever increasing share in a sector that nobody is interested in. Enter stage right…Danny DeVito in ‘Other People’s Money’

For a company that is so focussed on the EV future, it appears they are missing the mark on the whole sector. They are stumbling and stammering to produce and sell EV bikes, but are not producing small scooter size EVs. Perhaps they should corner that market…perhaps that would work well for Japan and many other markets. They can only compete in a future market if they are active within in it.

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