Harley-Davidson facing a tough year stateside

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US motorcycle giant, Harley-Davidson could see production cuts and reduce workers' hours due to a drop in sales figures.

As shipment expectations are down between 6-8%, the Milwaukee-based firm expects to sell between 241,000 and 246,000 bikes in 2017, down from 262,221 achieved last year.

President and CEO of Harley, Matt Levatich, explained: “Given U.S. industry challenges in the second quarter and the importance of the supply and demand balance for our premium brand, we are lowering our full-year shipment and margin guidance.” 

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The news comes after the sales and profit margins are a lot less than initially expected for the third quarter of 2017. While according to figures released last week, across the US big bike sales have dropped 7%.

And the predictions could well affect Harley-Davidson’s widely-rumoured bid to purchase Ducati, which is being sold off from parent company Volkswagen following the post-dieselgate emissions scandal.

It could force H-D to try and settle a deal to buy the Italian motorcycle manufacturer, which is currently itself enjoying a period of increased sales and profitability over the past two years. 

The biggest problem facing Harley though is its aging customer base and their biggest challenge has been changing the perceptions of younger riders.

To try and tackle this problem, H-D has introduced more affordable models such as the Street 750, though this has not yet been entirely successful as current figures are suggesting.

“Our long-term strategy, focused on building the next generation of Harley-Davidson riders, is our true north. Our new product investment is one pillar of our long-term strategy to build riders globally and we are energised by the strength of our model year 2018 motorcycles coming later this summer,” said Levatich.

10 years ago Harley would sell around 350,00 bikes a year, now let's see how 2017 pans out. 

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James Archibald

By James Archibald

Former MCN Junior Web Producer