Harley-Davidson reveals bold expansion plans, previews new models
Under the title "More Roads to Harley-Davidson," the American motorcycle manufacturer revealed its strategy to broaden its customer base. A series of new models in the next three years will include an adventure bike, a streetfighter, a custom, a small-displacement series and, finally, electric motorcycles.
When Harley-Davidson released its Q2 2018 results, it also announced that on July 30 it would share its plans to accelerate a strategy to attract customers from a wider base.
Facing slumping sales, especially in its domestic market, Harley-Davidson realizes the need to appeal to new riders, both in age and style. In this sense, it is no surprise that the latest press release from Milwaukee highlights the upcoming development of a series of new motorcycles, venturing in market segments previously unexplored by the US company.
Unsurprisingly, Harley-Davidson showcases an adventure bike first. The Pan America will be powered by a 1,250-cc V-twin and will attempt to tap into one of the most popular market segments, as evidenced by the growing number of huge motorcycles that emulate the SUV vibe.
Along with the Pan America, the same V-twin engine will also power a new Custom, apparently modeled after the power-cruiser styling of motorcycles like the Ducati Diavel.
Finally, the new model barrage will include a 975-cc Streetfighter, also going for a piece of the pie in one of the most popular market sectors, at least in Europe.
All three new motorcycles are scheduled to launch in 2020, with several spin-off models coming in the two following years to cover a broader spectrum in each segment.
For Asia, Harley-Davidson revealed that a whole new breed of small-capacity bikes are on the way, with displacements from 250 to 500 cc. These will be built in Asia by strategic partners, in order to keep prices as low as possible and thus make them accessible to large parts of the local customer base.
Finally, the electric prototype, Livewire, is going into production in 2019. As the automotive world gears up for the unavoidable shift from fossil fuels to electric power, Harley-Davidson gets on board and does so with ambitious plans that foresee a broad lineup of twist-and-go electric motorcycles, aimed at securing a commanding position for the brand in this new, rising market.
Judging from the sketches accompanying the announcement, Harley-Davidson is looking into a wide variety of electric models, including what appears to be a scooter.
For the time being there is no technical information on any of these new models; no word on the engines' pedigree, little more than intentions and a couple of photographs to support them.
Harley-Davidson's work isn't limited to designing new models; the company will also develop its market approach with new strategic alliances in the e-commerce sector, as well as explore its digital capabilities in order to enhance customer experience.
A lot of work will go into its dealer network, as it examines setting up smaller urban stores around the world to increase its reach.
There's no question that Harley-Davidson is about to change considerably. Facing stiff competition from Indian Motorcycles in its home market, a volatile political climate that almost burdened its most promising market – the European Union – with a sudden 25 percent tax, and a rising front of competition from countries like India and China, it has no other option than to diversify.
Create new products, stretch to several segments, streamline the dealer network and strive to adapt to constantly changing conditions; this is more or less the road ahead for Harley-Davidson.
"Harley-Davidson is iconic because we've never been static," said Harley-Davidson CEO, Matt Levatich. "In moving forward, we are tapping into the spirit that drove our founders back in 1903 and every one of the employees and dealers who rose to the challenges faced along the way. Our plan will redefine existing boundaries of our brand – reaching more customers in a way that reinforces all we stand for as a brand and as a company and we can't wait to kick it into gear."