Harley-Davidson’s Diversification Efforts Continue With Two More Unconventional Models

Harley-Davidson continues to make announcements that indicate their willingness to move past the traditional market boundaries of the 116-year-old company in search of new riders.

At the all-important EICMA motorsports show in Milan this past week, The Motor Company officially revealed two widely rumored and expected new motorcycles that operate far outside the usual cruiser segment H-D is most associated with. The new bikes follow on the heels of the beginning of series production of the $30,000 LiveWire electric motorcycle, introduced earlier this year. They also come at a time of slipping sales and stock performance for Harley, although there was finally some good news in the most recent quarter as international sales gave the company a boost. Will these two new bikes, aimed at markets and audiences not typically associated with Harley-Davidson, catch on and bring those highly coveted new riders into the fold? It looks like 2020 will be a key year in Harley-Davidson’s long and colorful history.


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Harley-Davidson has resumed production of the LiveWire

Harley-Davidson has resumed production and deliveries of its electric LiveWire motorcycle after determining an issue with charging was isolated to a single vehicle.

Harley-Davidson halted production and delivery of its first electric motorcycle earlier this week after discovering what it described at the time as a “non-standard condition.” Harley-Davidson didn’t recall any of the LiveWire motorcycles already on the road, but it did stop production and deliveries, and began additional testing and analysis.

At the time, Harley-Davidson didn’t explain what the non-standard issue was, but TechCrunch has since learned that it was a charging-related problem on one motorcycle.

“After completing rigorous analysis this week, we have resumed LiveWire production and deliveries,” Harley-Davidson said in a comment emailed to TechCrunch. “Customers may continue riding their LiveWire motorcycle and are able to charge the motorcycle through all methods. Temporarily stopping LiveWire production allowed us to confirm that the non-standard condition identified on one motorcycle was a singular occurrence.”

The company added that this incident shows that its quality assurance measures are working as designed.

The production stoppage put a damper on Harley-Davidson’s first foray into electrification just weeks after deliveries of LiveWire began to ramp up. The $29,799, 105 horsepower electric motorcycle was to be the first of a future line-up of EVs from Harley-Davidson spanning motorcycles, bicycles and scooters.

The LiveWire, which is meant to complement, not replace, Harley-Davidson’s premium internal-combustion cruiser motorcycles, went into production in 2019. Delivery to dealers began September 27.

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Harley-Davidson Goes on the Offensive, Plans to Gain 1 Million Riders by 2027

It is not the first plan America’s favorite motorcycle builder, Harley-Davidson, comes up with to increase its customer pool, but it may be, by far, the most ambitious. As per Harley, if everything goes according to plan, the brand should have 1 million more customers by the end of the next decade, and that in the United States alone.

Presently engaged in an effort to launch a new - and its first -  line of electric motorcycles, Harley believes it could do better in terms of sales, brand awareness and customer loyalty. To prove this, the More Roads to Harley-Davidson accelerated growth strategy was announced a while back.

Initially, that plan called, among others, for the launch of the LiveWire electric motorcycle in 2019, and the launch of multiple middleweight motorcycles. Now, the plan has a more customer-oriented component as well.

By 2027, the company intends to have 4 million riders in the U.S. alone, way up from the 3 million reported for 2017.

“We see a meaningful opportunity to leverage the power of the brand to demonstrate how riding a Harley-Davidson fills the mind, body, and soul in ways that help riders live for real,” said in a statement Matt Levatich, president and chief executive officer of Harley-Davidson.

“We’ll continue to fuel all aspects of the riding experience and add new solutions to fully develop, engage and retain riders through their journey, starting with the very first spark of interest.”

One of the main tools Harley will use in attracting more riders is of course the LiveWire, the first in a new breed of bikes.

The machine is already on sale, and it ships with free charging of 500 kWh over two years for anyone buying it by July 2021. That means roughly 30 full fills for the bike’s batteries and a total of 2,850 miles (4,586 km).

The LiveWire electric motorcycle starts at $29,799.

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Harley-Davidson Is Going Back to Its Real Roots: Bicycles

Harley-Davidson is synonymous with motorcycles, so much so that some Americans grow up referring to all motorcycles simply as “Harleys” (like some refer to all soda as “Coke”). But if you go back to the first entry in the company’s history, as documented on its website, it reads: “William S. Harley, age 21, completes a blueprint drawing of an engine designed to fit into a bicycle.” And now, it looks like Harley is going back to its roots — its real roots.

As Electrek reported last week, Harley unveiled a line of three electric bicycles at its 2020 Dealer Meeting this August. That’s right: Bicycles. We’ve been expecting more EV offerings after the electric LiveWire motorcycle — which we tested and will be arriving at dealers in September — but this is a huge transition for a company that’s built its legacy off gas-guzzling, exhaust-spewing, open-road hogs. The question becomes: Will this avenue keep Harley alive?

It’s a complicated question, and one that has to take into account everything from the old-school bikers who pine for Harley’s glory days, the market competition for “the last mile” and the proliferation of new electric vehicles. It’s so fraught that Forbes spent about 1,000 words discussing it.

The article in question begins by saying the move into electric bicycles “will certainly cause more furrowed brows and some harsh language from the Harley Faithful.” But the thing is, anyone paying attention to Harley has known ebikes were coming down the pipeline, we just didn’t know what they would look like. A year ago, when the brand announced that the LiveWire would launch in 2019, they also said “a broader range of electric models” were on the way — and that announcement included concept sketches that looked more like bicycles than motorcycles (albeit heftier than the ones in the new photo).

So what do we know about the e-bicycles that are supposedly “coming soon”? All the company is saying at this point is what’s on its website, “Harley-Davidson’s first electric pedal-assist bicycles are light, fast, and easy for anyone to ride. Designed to shine in urban environments, this all-new line of eBicycles is just one more example of how Harley-Davidson’s More Roads initiative is actively working to inspire a new generation of two-wheeled riders around the world.”

In other words, they’re keeping tight lipped until these are closer to production. But expect more details sooner rather than later. While other vehicle manufacturers are making general claims about speeding up electrification, Harley already has a proven track record, moving up the LiveWire to 2019 after initially setting a release date of 2021.

While it’s easy to guffaw when confronted with “light, fast and easy” electric bicycles from Harley, the company is one of the few that seems to be smartly and successfully navigating the minefield of EVs. They’re working on vehicles for everyone, including its diehard fans (electric motorcycles that are cheaper than the LiveWire are on the way) and new generations that have never even considered getting a motorcycle license. And these new e-bicycles look to be just one more stepping stone to their comeback.

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Harley-Davidson warns that motorcycle sales are slowing

New York (CNN Business)Plagued by tariffs and declining interest in motorcycles in the United States, Harley-Davidson's sales continue to struggle.

The company delivered nearly 69,000 bikes for the quarter, down 5% compared to the same period a year earlier. Overall sales fell 6% to $1.4 billion.
Harley-Davidson (HOG) has been trying to keep costs lower by shifting some of its manufacturing to Thailand, where it can avoid some tariffs and build motorcycles closer to European and Asian customers who are showing more interest in Harley's products than American customers. Harley has been shipping bikes across the world from the United States.
The company recently received the necessary regulatory approvals to ship Thailand-built motorcycles to the European Union, which will reduce the amount of tariffs Harley has to pay. But that approval process took "considerably longer" than the company had planned, eating into its profit, which tumbled 19% to $195.6 million last quarter.
Weaker-than-expected demand in Europe ate into the company's sales forecast. The company slashed the number of bikes it expects to ship this year to between 212,000 and 217,000. The company, based in Milwaukee, previously said it expected to deliver between 217,000 and 222,000 motorcycles for 2019.
Harley's sales have dropped for several years as interest declines among younger people. President Donald Trump supported a boycott when Harley announced plans to shift some manufacturing overseas in response to tariffs.
In an attempt to rev up its business, Harley is focusing on international sales and new bikes.
Earlier this year, Harley released photos of two lightweight electric vehicle concepts that resemble slimmed down motorcycles, or electric bicycles without pedals. It declined to say if the prototypes will come to market.
The company also struck a deal in June to make small motorcycles in China. The country is a bright spot for Harley: Sales in the country increased 27% in 2018 compared to the previous year.
Harley's stock fell more than 4% in early trading Tuesday.

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