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Archive for August, 2020

Riding the Going To The Sun Road – Glacier National Park

From Acadia to Zion our country’s most spectacular landscape treasures are protected inside the parks.

No map or brochure can prepare you for that first motorcycle ride and peering out over a guardrail at snowy mountain peaks, waterfalls that flow down the valley through the forests, and end in a clear blue lake carved out by glaciers. The mountain mornings always have a bite of cold as the sun takes its time to wake, while meandering through the incredible scenery.

I’m talking about National Parks in general and specifically Glacier National Park, Montana which in my view shines above the rest.

Glacier National Park – Going The Sun Road

It never gets old and I plan to ride through the million-acre paradise later this month and take a COVID-19 mental diversion through the park. Montana has plenty of mountain roads where motorcyclists can ride and absorb the landscape, but the crown jewel is the Going-to-the-Sun Road. It crosses the Continental Divide carves through the steep grade of rock and forest with roughly 50 miles of sweeping curves and hairpin switchbacks along with an occasional tunnel passage through the mountain.

The national parks are such a gift, one we’ve given to each other. One we’ve inherited and, with luck, will pass down to the generations that follow us.

Speaking of paying it forward…

Going To The Sun Road

The National Park System comprises 419 national park sites, but only 62 of them have the “National Park” designation in their names. The other sites fall into different National Park System categories like National Historic Sites, National Monuments, National Seashores, National Recreation Areas, and others.

You might be surprised to learn that the National Park Service accounts for 84 million acres of land at more than 400 different sites, but as of 2019, they were due for $11.9 billion (that’s a B!) in deferred maintenance and repairs. Fortunately, the current administration recently signed a bipartisan bill (Great American Outdoors Act) that will pay for repairs at national parks, permanently finance the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and in addition will create a lot of jobs.  The bill directs up to $6.65 billion to priority fixes and up to $3 billion for agencies such as the Fish and Wildlife Service. In addition, the bill will allocate $900 million each year to the conservation fund. The program – which has existed for half a century – has historically been plagued by funding shortfalls.

Lake McDonald

The Great American Outdoors Act enacted last week is clearly the most consequential funding for national parks, wildlife refuges, and public recreation facilities in U.S. history since the conservation legacy of President Theodore Roosevelt in the early 1900s.

As motorcycle enthusiasts, we can take heart that there’s always going to be those historic chalets, lodges, and miles of tarmac with beautiful landscapes that meander their way through the firs, aspen, and stone.

Photos taken by author.

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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Jason Momoa (i.e. “Aquaman”) collaborates with Harley-Davidson

How often have we recently heard… “We continue to face challenges during these unprecedented times.” — Harley-Davidson CEO Jochen Zeitz opening statement during the July 28, 2020 financial call.

I’m not a grammar nerd, but “unprecedented times” is a tiresome word.  Stop saying it Mr. Zeitz – and it’s also inaccurate!

We are not in an “unprecedented” time.

This isn’t the 1930’s Great Depression, the worst economic downturn in the history of the industrialized world. There’s been no dot-com bubble (i.e. Internet bubble) that was caused by excessive speculation in Internet-related companies in the late 1990s. It’s not the real estate bubble of 2008 and the follow-on market crash, recession and unemployment that was linked to the “subprime mortgage crisis.” There is no automotive industry crisis of 2008–2010 where declining automobile sales and scarce availability of credit led to General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford facing insolvency without major government intervention. It’s not the 1918 flu pandemic, which killed 675,000 Americans and the worldwide death toll was estimated at 100 million. One pandemic death is too much, but the COVID-19 deaths are currently nowhere close to that, thankfully.

Q2 2020 HOG Earnings Report

So, stop using these new most-hated sayings: “unprecedented” times, it’s the “new normal” and “we are in this together” mantra.

And, who’s the “we” here? The point is “we” are not all on the same team in this pandemic. Everyone is dealing with it in their own way. The restaurant employee who’s been unemployed for months isn’t in this together with a Fortune 500 CEO.  The nurse on the front-line treating pandemic patients isn’t in this with the marketing manager who can work from home.

It’s not “unprecedented” for me to rant about something while being largely sequestered at home for nearly five months. But it is what it is, I guess.

Back to the Q2’20 financial call… and some key comments made during the call:

  • The Harley-Davidson culture has suffered. The company has seen five consecutive restructuring’s every year in order to basically chase the downward trend in sales.
  • The Rewire” strategic vision is now being replaced by “The Hardwire.” (more on this at the bottom of the post)
  • Extending the 2020 model year through fall (historically launch was late August) and now new bikes will arrive in dealer showrooms early 2021.
  • Used motorcycle pricing increased about 6% throughout Q2, certainly, higher than Harley has seen in any previous quarter.
  • Harley continues to see strong potential in Adventure Touring and will launch Pan America globally in 2021.
  • Harley has streamlined the structure, which now requires approx 700 fewer positions and approximately 500 employees laid off.
  • H-D is not willing to sacrifice the strength of their legacy in a quest for pure volume growth going forward.
  • Increased recognition on the role of digital technology as a critical priority in the future for Harley-Davidson.
  • H-D will focus on roughly 50 primary markets that generate the vast majority of their retail sales and shipments.
  • Surprise!  Planning to add a Sustainability Officer to the team who will further H-D commitment to the planet and to society.
  • New brand building approach and social media campaign directed by “Aquaman” i.e. Jason Momoa (video of Mr. Momoa touring H-D Museum)

Q2’20 Numbers:

  • Harley-Davidson posted a loss of $0.60 per share for Q2’20
  • Worldwide retail sales of new motorcycles were down 26.6% versus prior year and Q2 revenue of $865 million was down 47% year over year.
  • U.S. retail sales in Q2’20 were down 26.7% versus prior year.
  • EMEA declined 29.8%, Asia Pacific was down 10.2%, and Latin America saw declines in Mexico and Brazil and finished the quarter down 51%.
  • U.S. market share of new bike registrations was 38.5%, down 8.1 percentage points
  • Motorcycle mix shifted from touring to cruising versus Q2’19, which reduced average motorcycle revenue per bike.
  • Credit losses were down due to lower delinquencies and lower repossessions helped by H-D offering of payment extensions to certain customers.
  • While Q2 results were again terrible, Harley-Davidson was still able to sell over 31,000 motorcycles in the U.S. during a global health crisis that closed off its retail stores.

During the financial call, Mr. Zeitz announced Harley will have yet another roadmap to follow: “The Hardwire,” the motor company’s third visionary plan in two years.

You might recall “The More Roads to Harley-Davidson” plan unveiled in July 2018 which stated the development of 100 new models over 10 years, giving more attention to international markets than in the U.S. market, and putting a much greater focus on electric vehicles.

That plan was largely abandoned earlier this year when then CEO Matt Levatich abruptly left the company and was replaced by chairman Zeitz. The “More Roads” was replaced by the vague and loosely defined “The Rewire” plan, which incorporated some of Levatich’s plan, but would instead focus more on key markets and products to drive the bike maker’s profitability and growth potential.

Now we can look forward to a new 5-year strategic plan; “The Hardwire,” which will be grounded in enhancing the desirability of Harley’s brand and protecting the value (i.e., keep pricing elevated) of the iconic products.” The Hardwire roadmap is expected to take over in the fourth quarter and serve as the strategic plan for the company to follow through 2025.

Photos courtesy of Asphalt & Rubber and Harley-Davidson

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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