Harley-Davidson profits fall
26th October 2017
Market share increased | Bike sales decline
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Milwaukee's most famous son has been talking big recently. The firm has announced its intention to manufacture 100 new models over the next 10 years—which isn't actually that impressive when you think about it. Why not? Because Harley-Davidson is apt to slap on a new paint job and shift the foot controls this way or that way and then call that a new model. And that ain't exactly what we'd call it.
However, that isn't the real story here. That's just the context. The real story is about Harley-Davidson's operating profits fall which shows that for the third quarter of 2017 (July, August, September), profits slumped 45.8% when compared to the same three months in 2016. In hard cash, that's down from $114.1 million to just £68.2 million.
▲ 2018 Harley-Davidson Breakout. 107-cubic inch, or optional 114-cubic inch, Milwaukee Eight engine. These bikes are as lean and as mean as ever (etc), but the buying queue for Hogs has been shortening lately.
Motorcycle sales for this period fell by 6.9 percent worldwide, but bike sales did a little better on home turf; down 8.1 percent which compares to a 9.2 percent fall in the industry as a whole. Confusing numbers? We struggle with 'em too sometimes.
Is Harley worried? A little. But the company still managed to shift around a quarter of a million bikes over that period—which is roughly four times the number that Triumph is shifting (and Triumph is doing very nicely, thank you). And against this backdrop, Harley-Davidson managed to increase its share of the market in the over 601cc segment.
▲ 2018 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob (above and below). According to the marketing people at H-D, these bikes offer "PERFORMANCE: WHITE KNUCKLE. STYLE: BRASS KNUCKLE." Make you afraid to go out at night, huh?
So how will the firm fight back? In the usual way, which is to keep pushing the envelope with new technologies (including electric) and driving home its brand kudos—and Harley-Davidson has plenty of that in reserve.
Company President and CEO, Matt Levatich, is bullish about the future, but perhaps needs to consider his words more carefully, or have them considered for him.
Quote: "The continued weakness in the U.S. motorcycle industry only heightens our resolve and the intensity we are bringing to the quest to build the next generation of Harley-Davidson riders. Launching one hundred new high-impact motorcycles is a critical part of our 10-year journey, and the all new Softail line-up is a significant statement of our commitment."
We wouldn't have phrased it quite that way. But who the hell are we to tell Harley-Davidson how to do its job?
See also: Sump Motorcycle News February 2016
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