With an aging loyal fanbase and very few new buyers, Harley-Davidson has been struggling the past few years to stay competitive in the motorcycle market. The Milwaukee based motorcycle manufacturer has made cruisers for most of its life, but now finds itself struggling in a world where many buyers are looking for something else.
Just a few years ago, its new CEO, Matt Levatich, announced a bold new plan to make Harley relevant again: launch several new models that aren’t cruisers. The plan was called “More Roads to Harley” and certainly did help drum up some much needed excitement for the brand.
Unfortunately, due to the problematic early weeks of the Livewire, low sales for 2020, and the COVID-19 pandemic on top of that, Harley has found itself in troubled waters again. This resulted in a new CEO, Jochen Zeits, being installed and Harley’s future plans put under the microscope.
Harley-Davidson Pan America
Zeits issued his first public statement since taking the helm and has outlined his plans to bring the company back to profitability. He listed five pillars as keys to Harley’s return to success: Enhance core strengths and better balance expansion into new spaces; Prioritize the markets that matter; Reset product launches and product line up for simplicity and maximum impact; Build the Parts & Accessories and General Merchandise businesses to full potential; Adjust and align the organizational structure, cost structure and operating model to reduce complexity and drive efficiency to set Harley-Davidson up for stability and success.
Put simply, Harley is going to focus on what it does best: build cruisers. Perhaps we’ll see a slimming of its very expansive product lineup to just those that continue to sell well. Harley is well aware that the current owners of their motorcycles are fiercely loyal and so its parts and accessories services will only improve.
What these pillars may affect are some of the more interesting plans Harley had laid out in the past. Zeits has at least confirmed that its planned adventure bike, the Pan America; its streetfighter, the Bronx; and electric model, the Livewire will be retained.
Harley-Davidson's planned 338cc Asian model
We’ve yet to find out if some of the more interesting models, like the 338cc Chinese-made Harley will still push through. It should certainly be given careful thought as it’s destined for a potentially large and lucrative market: Asia.
Harley-Davidson electric motorcycle concepts
The simplified new strategy may not grab headlines the way the old plan did, but it will certainly ease worries of investors and put it in a better position to grow in the future. We’ll keep you posted on whether the baby Harley will push through.