Harley Yet Survives

April 23, 2019

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Harley Yet Survives

Harley-Davidson yet survives while the company’s executives hopefully await the two million millennial hipsters they expect to swamp dealer’s showrooms real soon. Any day now.

They are out there somewhere: in all the colors of the rainbow; in all four of the current sexes; wearing their nerd glasses; appropriating their Pabst Blue Ribbons; their trust fund dollars burning holes in the pockets of their skinny jeans. They are out there. Just out of sight. They must be. They must be.

Meanwhile, the numbers, the dismal numbers, continue to drop.

The Numbers

Harley shipped 58,891 motorcycles in the first three months of 2019. It shipped 63,944 in the first quarter last year. This year the company hopes to send dealers between 217,000 and 222,000 bikes. This April, May and June Harley hopes to ship between 65,500 and 70,500 motorcycles.

American motorcycle sales dropped 4.2 percent for the quarter. Foreign sales declined 3.3 percent.
First quarter earnings dropped from $174.8 million last year to $127.9 million this year. Per share earnings a year ago were $1.03. This year earnings dropped to 80 cents per share. The good news is that Wall Street analysts had expected per share earnings to be 67 cents. One headline was “First Quarter Profits and Sales Top Estimates.”

Harley sold 1.1 million motorcycles in 2005.

Blame Europe And You

Company executives blame the decline on an aging customer base. The company has responded to that by introducing new, smaller motorcycles and electric vehicles and has aggressively marketed them to the opposite of the company’s core customer base since the early 1980s. Harley grew successful by commoditizing the motorcycle outlaw mystique. It called the commodity “the biker lifestyle” and a lot of people came along for the ride. Owning a Harley gave people who worked in cubicles the opportunity to feel like they worked in foundries. Now that most of the foundries are gone the company is trying to sell something softer.

Harley was also hurt when President Trump import taxes on aluminum and steel imports from Europe. The European Union retaliated by raising its own import taxes on iconic American items like bourbon and Harleys. When Harley responded to that by saying it was moving some of its production overseas, Trump called for a boycott of the company’s motorcycles.

Blah, Blah, Blah

This morning the President blamed Harley’s woes on the Europeans. “Harley Davidson has struggled with Tariffs with the EU, currently paying 31%,” he tweeted. “They’ve had to move production overseas to try and offset some of that Tariff that they’ve been hit with which will rise to 66% in June of 2021.” @MariaBartiromo So unfair to U.S. We will Reciprocate!”

(“Maria Bartiromo” is a reference to a Fox Business Network anchor. Please see the video below.)

The price of each share of Harley-Davidson stock fell 2.24 percent when the stock market opened. Each share now costs $39.86.

Harley’s Chief Executive Officer, Matt Levatich said “We are acting with agility and discipline to take full advantage of rapidly evolving global markets. Harley-Davidson’s U.S. market share growth and retail sales performance in the first quarter are further evidence of the effects we are having as we continue to implement and dial-in our More Roads efforts. We are driven by our un-paralleled rider focus and deep analytics that are guiding our efforts today and into the future. We, along with our dealers, are determined to lead and stimulate global industry growth.”

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30 Responses to “Harley Yet Survives”

  1. fayettenamhoe Says:

    my apologies;
    not quite sure what planet Harley you rode,
    but maybe i’m still an antiquated piece of shit,
    i don’t need the garbage the CEO’s sell out to.
    to bad for those employee’s who bought into that myth,
    i never needed to brand myself, (harley) killed themselves
    i walk my panhead around the block, like a dog on a chain,
    quiet, no loud mouth, no sounds but them two tires
    hunting the truth, the irony? i hated loving this madness,
    anyone can become a make believe biker, no tattoo can save your
    motor when it is all you strive for, no faith unless you live
    for an obsolete idea, we ride to be free, and let others be free
    just as mutch as you . fuck harley they shit on their customers
    if you a’int free why buy a soulless machine, nutz and bolts
    are not what they seem, i love my muufflers

  2. fayettenamhoe Says:

    my apologies;
    not quite sure what planet Harley you rode,
    but maybe i’m still an antiquated piece of shit,
    i don’t need the garbage the CEO’s sell out to.
    to bad for those employee’s who bought into that myth,
    i never needed to brand myself, (harley) killed themselves
    i walk my panhead around the block, like a dog on a chain,
    quiet, no loud mouth, no sounds but them two tires
    hunting the truth, the irony? i hated loving this madness,
    anyone can become a make believe biker, no tattoo can save your
    motor when it is all you strive for, no faith unless you live
    for an obsolete idea, we ride to be free, and let others be free
    just as mutch as you . fuck harley they shit on their customers
    if you a’int free why buy a soulless machine, nutz and bolts
    are not what they seem, i love my muufflers

  3. ORDVET Says:

    I’m on my 3rd HD, making the natural progression – 2000 Sporty, traded for a 2006 Heritage, traded for a 2017 Ultra Limited. I love it, but for $30k, I’m keeping this bike until I can no longer hold it up, then going to a trike. Hopefully that’s not for a long time. Who knows how much a trike will cost at that point – $40k? So HD will only get 4 bikes out of me (at most) in my lifetime.

    Aside from a couple of PIA recall things that I had the dealer take care of, I do all of my own maintenance, and whatever I can’t do, I have an indy mechanic who can. Why HD believes $100+ for an oil change or $500 for scheduled maint is realistic or even acceptable is beyond me. And to have the HD dealer employees treat you like they’re doing you a fuckin’ favor is just an added bonus!

    Pricing your bikes and service out of reach is not a good business model.

  4. GB_FXR Says:

    As an FXR guy I wasn’t a big fan of the DYNA’s because they just didn’t handle as well (who hasn’t experienced the dyna wobble?) but still fun after they went 6-speed and you plunked down some money for aftermarket suspension. The new softail platform is awesome right out of the box and handles like a tricked out FXR. (yes I said that) I then rode the Legends suspension demo bike last year and was incredible, even better. Not sure how I’ll work the funds but I’ve seen a few used ones for sale so maybe after all these years I’ll actually own a fuel injected Harley. I was a skeptic until I rode one. Pathetic it took them this long to make a this good. Finally demo’d the some CVO Bagger a few weeks ago and I wasn’t treated well because I couldn’t figure the shit out. Finally figured out how to turn it on just in time to leave with group. Spent entire ride trying to turn off stereo, heated seat and heated grips left on full blast. $10,000 worth of bike and $30,000 worth of bullshit.

  5. TX_Biker Says:

    @David Exactly, bring back the Dyna.

  6. David Says:

    I bought my first Harley at 26 years old, 2016 FLSTC. I’m fortunate enough to have a good job that allowed me to afford a Harley. HD think coming out with electric bikes and these street models will catch them up? No way. I have met and know countless people who want a Harley but paying 15k+ is what scares them away. So making a 500 or 750 cheap just makes you feel like a fat chick who wants to fit in on a bullshit bike. Keep the high end baggers, CVO, and Specials for the rich. But why not bring back the notorious Dyna and cut the price down? Price competitively to your competition and BOOM everyone who wants one but can’t afford one now can! Stop worrying about your 5 million dollar bonus and worry about keeping what used to be one of the most iconic American companies alive.

  7. commonsense Says:

    I’m. 60 and still have a 90 fxr and a 2015 street bob that is tricked out. I have the stage 4 kit with the Kraus inverted forks. It shits and gets. Yet I read that Harley is coming out with an electric glide without all the bells and you get it. I can get into that. I don’t need GPS or big speakers. I would take the money I saved on that shit and up grade the suspension and tweek the motor.

  8. Mark Says:

    Here’s a few things that I notice that are upside down with HD. The 2019 Boom Box seems to be a tracking device but why? Is HD selling its customer’s road travels and if so to whom? In order to get fuel mileage average speed and so on, you must turn on your GPS tracking. Which any car does because the information is with in the car, the car’s computer readily know that stuff and doesn’t need to be GPS tracking device. Look at the massive tires on the bikes. I have a few biked and my go to bike is often a FXSTD, 17” rear and a 21” front and both are not fat so I can roll the corners with speed, safely. Build bikes that don’t track its owner and make the bikes able to rode and not be bar parking lot beautiful. Oh yea, what the fuck happen to a CD player?

  9. Penguin Says:

    The old XL and the old Evo in my garage are ok, but I want a ’48 UL…or a KH… The MoCo simply builds stuff I don’t want, it’s overpriced and of low quality. In no case anything built after 2002. Most of my pals feel about the same, though there are some twincams in that group – and even guys with fairings and phucking windshilds…go figure!

    But it’s not just bikes…everything great is gone. Too many “lawz”, too many cops, too many gadgets…and too many chickenchitpunks.

    oldskewl an’ me are on the same page, maybe. I am considering building a soft-tail metric to add to the “fleet”. (Got a pair of XS Yammis gatherin’ dust)

    After they did the job on JFK it all began to slip away…purely coincidental…

    Guess nothing lasts, not the good machines, and not us. Maybe not America either…what’s left?

  10. anon Says:

    I had 74″ 1976 FXE that would pull wheelies- popping a wheeling isn’t hard, it’s just not killing yourself in the process. Same for an 80″ EVO that I built into a 96ci EVO- either configuration in an HD FXR frame. Narrowglide front end, zero degree rake, bitch would take the fuck off. After the 96″- more so…

  11. TX_Biker Says:

    I wouldn’t count Harley out. They still sell more bikes than most. How many Bikes has Polaris sold under the Indian moniker? Well they don’t report numbers only percentages based on sales. So an 8% rise sounds like a lot but when you do a little digging and find out they have sold less than 40,000 units in 4 years well. I have heard this crap about Harley many times in the past. AMF will kill Harley, The Family Buy Back will kill Harley, Indian will Kill Harley, blah blah blah. I’ll believe it when I see it. But I’m betting it won’t happen in my lifetime.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    Not gonna lie. I bought a 2019 Road glide a couple months ago and I love it. The m8 114″ motor can pop wheelies.

  13. david Says:

    For the H-D corporate business board-members and PHD’d planners: “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”. Future 66 % overseas import tariff maybe wasn’t included, or even considered possible, in the business plan.

    H-D’s Street 500-750 ad’s lead-in,clearly sells the broad’s pussy, with the bike.

  14. Birdie Says:

    You might want to look into: Phil Z (Phillip McCoy) of the Warlocks MC. He has been in jail for almost a month in Brevard County, Florida. He is being tried for a case from 7/3/2017 for a drug charge involving the Rico Act (Not Warlocks MC related) and two separate cases from 11/7/2018 (Possession and Domestic Battery) and 3/24/2019 (DUI and Refusal to Blow). You can case search at Brevard County Clerk of Court and also BCSO Bookings. He was out on a bond until he was arrested for the DUI and refusal to blow which violated his pre-trial release for the 2017 charges. He is now being held for the Judge without bail.

  15. DeRock Says:

    Shit customer service, shit dealership staff (for the most part) you go in feeling like you are going to get scammed somehow. Discontinue an entire line of very successful motorcycles,dyna,which gives the customer less options at a higher price point, gimme a break. The electric line up is cool and all if your into that sort of thing but the mileage between needing charged is a joke. My younger self would never even consider a bagger but the older I get the more they make sense but at 40k…nope. They keep talking about this customer base, the numbers show blah blah where are these customers? Its like some sort of movie where the company is purposefully trying to sink. Just make a motorcycle that younger folks can realistacly afford that isn’t some shitty looking moped and watch them come in the showroom doors. Like the FXDXT. Sport tour is the golden ticket is my opionion but who asked…

  16. oldskewl Says:

    Harley can’t go quick enough for me. When I’m gone the bikes can be history too. For now, I’ll build my own just like I did when AMF owned it.

  17. Sieg Says:

    So, here is a few years of sales data for HD. May be off by a unit or two here and there, but overall it should be fairly accurate. Note the steady climb into the triple digits in the 90’s…maybe it’s time to go back to building smaller amounts of actual American-made sleds.

    1937. 2,025
    1938. 2,478
    1939. 2,909
    1940. 4,069
    1941. 5,149
    1942. 1,743
    1943. 303
    1944. 460
    1945. 1,430
    1946. 6,746
    1947. 11,648
    1948. 12,924
    1949. 12,685
    1950. 10,174
    1951. 8,303
    1952. 6,700
    1953. 5,337
    1954. 4,757
    1955. 5,142
    1956. 5,806
    1957. 8,000
    1958. 7,550 (6,038 BT; 1,529 XL)
    1959. 7,800 (5,767 BT; 2,061 XL)
    1960. 8,750 (5,967 BT; 2,765 XL)
    1961. 6,950 (4,927 BT; 2,014 XL)
    1962. 7,200 (5,184 BT; 1,998 XL)
    1963. 5,700 (4,246 BT; 1,433 XL)
    1964. 8,400 (5,500 BT; 2,860 XL)
    1965. 10,700 (6,930 BT; 3,770 XL)
    1966. 12,600 (7,800 BT; 4,800 XL)
    1967. 12,250 (7,750 BT; 4,500 XL)
    1968. 13,950 (7,072 BT; 6,884 XL)
    1969. 15,100 (7,300 BT; 7,800 XL)
    1970. 16,200 (7,615 BT; 8,560 XL)
    1971. 22,150 (11,375 BT; 1,0775 XL)
    1972. 34,350 (16,200 BT; 18,150 XL)
    1973. 37,100 (16,400 BT; 20,700 XL)
    1974. 40,450 (16,500 BT; 23,830 XL)
    1975. 41,650 (22,245 BT; 19,410 XL)
    1976. 47,700 (29,586 BT; 18,082 XL)
    1977. 44,250 (24,417 BT; 19,838 XL)
    1978. 46,850 (29,281 BT; 17,561 XL)
    1979. 38,975 (37,780 BT; 11,798 XL)
    1980. 46,700 (31,615 BT; 14,767 XL)
    1981. 41,600 (30,166 BT; 10,102 XL)
    1982. 28,000 (17,389 BT; 6,276 XL)
    1983. 29,500 (13,818 BT; 8,738 XL)
    1984. 37,850 (30,878 BT; 6,175 XL)
    1985. 32,300 (25,786 BT; 6,514 XL)
    1986. 36,735 (24,776 BT; 11,959 XL)
    1987. 43,315 (29,066 BT; 14,249 XL)
    1988. 50,517 (33,026 BT; 17,491 XL)
    1989. 58,925 (41,087 BT; 17,838 XL)
    1990. 62,458 (46,339 BT; 16,119 XL)
    1991. 68,626 (49,891 BT; 18,735 XL)
    1992. 76,495 (58,872 BT; 17,623 XL)
    1993. 81,696 (59,449 BT; 22,247 XL)
    1994. 96,387 (69,345 BT; 26,466 XL; Buell 576)
    1995. 106,511 (75,479 BT; 29,625 XL; Buell 1,407)
    1996. 121,533 (87,598 BT; 31,173 XL; Buell 2,762)
    1997. 136,700 (100,832 BT; 31,453 XL; Buell 4,415)
    1998. 157,100 (116,926 BT; 33,892 XL; Buell 6,282)
    1999. 184,954 (135,317 BT; 41,870 XL; Buell 7,767)
    2000. 209,635 (158,379 BT; 46,213 XL; Buell 5,043 [no Blast singles included])
    2001. 240,416 (183,647 BT; 50,814 XL; Buell 5,955)
    2002. 273,233 (194,474 BT; V-Rod 19,709; 51,171 XL; Buell 7,879)
    2003. 301,000 (233,982 BT inc. V-Rod; 57,165 XL; Buell 7,979)
    2004. 325,667 (247,468 BT inc. V-Rod; 69,821 XL; Buell 8,378)
    2005. 337,783 (258,802 BT inc. V-Rod; 70,215 XL; Buell 8,766)
    2006. 359,413 (284,639 BT inc. V-Rod; 64,557 XL; Buell 10,217)
    2007. 340,059 (258,583 BT inc. V-Rod; 72,036 XL; Buell 9,440)
    2008. 312,674 (242,795 BT inc. V-Rod; 60,684 XL; Buell 9,195)

  18. rookery Says:

    HD, King of the corporate shits. There are HD subordinates currently auditing official dealers here in europe to check if they’re discounting part sales to independent repair shops. Idea is to force servicing and repairs back into the official sphere…. so you can be overcharged and told that something isn’t repairable but must be replaced with an official HD stamped part number. My 2 local HD dealers have creative bookkeeping to keep the suits at arms length and help the local shops. All credit to them….Personally I hope HD go under…..

  19. white witch Says:

    Harley has dug it’s on grave buy over pricing and over expansion.
    They built all those new dealerships to any shithead that could afford to open one.
    They could not staff them with enough qualified people and they show no loyalty to customers. They got away with it when half the boomers had their midlife crisis.
    Now that they don’t have them they are stuck with us and we are about fed up with HD’s shit. Love the bike but shake my head at the company. The only time I go to a HD dealer is if my old lady wants a shirt.

    ride free
    white witch

  20. BeemerCM Says:

    “We are driven by our un-paralleled rider focus and deep analytics that are guiding our efforts today and into the future.”

    Yep, they’re screwed.

  21. Curbside Says:

    If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times…but Harley really needs to start listening to their customer base.

    Yes, there are folks who want a $40k bagger with all the latest and greatest.

    There’s also a shit-ton of folks who want a cheap, fast, stripped-down bike with no frills. Yes, Harley is making fast(ish?) bikes, but they’re mostly special-edition bikes with the factory performance parts (and a huge price tag) pre-installed.

  22. zero Says:

    Think about this before you buy a new M8. Will there be enough of them for the aftermarket to bother making parts if Harley can’t sell more than they are selling now?

  23. Paladin Says:

    Commercialize a lifestyle that made you an icon. Then; abandon those that live that lifestyle. Overcharge for your product, build products that are constantly being recalled for one bad design flaw or another. Then; top it all off with shitty customer service, and Voila! You’re out of business.

    An amazing business plan you do have.

    Paladin

  24. SpecialK Says:

    For any given Harley model, there are better options, both foreign and domestic. Harley is supposed to be a premium brand. But what do they offer that no one else does? Their reliance on the outlaw perception is what ruined them. This new generation finds that kinda stuff scary.

  25. SteveD Says:

    Love Harley had my bike in for service and new tires and they would not give me tire discount due to me purchasing better quality rubber. Went into the boutique and a full loaded street glide (non CVO) was 42k. Don’t think they are going to be around in 10 years

  26. That Old Phat Kid Says:

    Sad to think that what we call life is dying a slow corporate death. But again these companies went to big to fast in the late 90’s early 2000’s. Same happened in the Jap market and their dealerships. I worked in the industry for the last 20 and got out due to not being able to make more then 30k a year with over 25 years of experience with motorcycles as a owner and rep. The big four- HD and every manufacturer has turned a blind eye to the reality of the motorcycle market…. what it was based on… The people that made it big. Unions have killed Harley. How did a bike 40 years ago cost $3k and now they are 25k?????????????? GFY HD, Indian and every other greedy SOB. I will keep buying used. My life is not a trend. Also why make millions of bikes if there is only hundred-thousands of riders? They swamped the market. Killed resale pricing and blame us. Funny Shit.

  27. Bone Head Says:

    Hey Levatich, try treating your customers right for a change. Quit worrying about your shares of stock; when the customers feel treated right they’ll buy.

  28. Oregon Moose Says:

    I’m guessing that the Mayans television show didn’t result in a few hundred thousand extra new bikes being sold.

    So Harley sold 1,100,000 bikes in 2005. Fourteen years later, they might sell 25% that number. If they hit their projections. Not exactly numbers that inspire long term confidence in the company.

    The times keep changing, not for the better I’m afraid.

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