Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘2020 Models’ Category

“Top-Dogs” Existing Harley-Davidson

Companies often don’t announce their troubles in advance — it’s a strategy that prevents mass exodus. But, when “top dogs” start leaving a company in packs, it’s probably time for you to consider the same.

The latest Harley-Davidson departure is senior vice president and chief operating officer Michelle Kumbier. In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Harley-Davidson did not disclose a reason for her departure, which is set for April 3rd.

For Harley-Davidson workers, the question of whether—and how long—to stick with a beleaguered employer is one that hits plenty of people at one time or other. Deciding whether to stay or go is always a tough call, and compounding the decision this year is that COVID-19 is an equal opportunity offender for job displacement.

A number of high-ranking executives have left Harley-Davidson in the span of six months:

  • October 2019 — Neil Grimmer was removed from his post as president of global brand development following an investigation that the company said showed violations of the company’s code of conduct.
  • October 2019 — Heather Malenshek, who was chief marketing officer and senior vice president, marketing and brand, left the company.
  • November 2019 — Paul Jones left his role as vice president, chief legal officer, chief compliance officer and secretary of Harley-Davidson.
  • February 2020 — president and CEO Matt Levatich announces his departure, but the hedge fund, Impala, stated he was fired by the board.
  • March 2020 — senior vice president and chief operating officer Michelle Kumbier leaves the company.

The motor company announced that Bryan Niketh has been promoted to senior vice president of product and operations and will assume Kumbier’s former responsibilities. Kumbier’s global sales responsibilities as chief operating officer will be assumed by acting president and CEO Jochen Zeitz.  In addition, assistant general counsel Paul Krause, who has been serving as interim chief legal officer, has been hired for the role permanently.

Harley’s drip, drip, drip of declining sales is well-trodden media territory.  If negative media coverage is unrelenting, the business stands little chance of bouncing back very soon.

I’m not going to pretend that this is easy stuff, especially given all the uncertainty. The lockdown situations in the U.S. and abroad in markets like Italy, Spain and France, will clearly impact Harley’s production and sales.  And after lifting a two-month or more lockdown are there going to be any buyers if there is a sharp recession or are people going to curtail their discretionary spending given “respectful exits” and the economic consequences?

Harley-Davidson needs to nail the fundamentals and it’s now more important than ever to continue to develop and produce amazing new products.

Photos credit: Patrick J. Endres

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

Let me start off by saying I like Indian motorcycles. I really do.  I’m digging the variety of styles and the attention to detail on each build.

But, my heart is with Harley…

In a previous post I discussed the Indian “Challenger Challenge,” a campaign that invites motorcyclists to test ride the Challenger and the Harley-Davidson Road Glide® Special back-to-back for a head-to-head comparison.

It’s brilliant.

It’s worth pausing for a moment to consider how this campaign would’ve worked out if Indian used any other motorcycle in their lineup vs. the Road Glide — one of Harley’s bagger cash cow.  It’s dangerous to make assertions about “might-have-beens,” or what analytic philosophers like to call “counterfactuals,” because no evidence can exist that fully demonstrates the falseness of such an assertion.

But, I’ve digressed.

A “bake-off” for the preeminent bagger, demonstrates a battle for supremacy in the public mind.  It’s also a battle for cultural supremacy, not a judgement about features, technical prowess or achievements.  It’s the subtlety of Indian craving the appeal of that, what makes a Harley, a Harley.  That ineffable something (that je ne sais quoi, if you need a phrase to go with your cappuccino).

So, in classic Harley fashion, and only 5-months in the role, Jon Bekefy (GM of Brand Marketing at Harley-Davidson) calls BS and snapped back at Indian.  Mr. Bekefy uploaded an agency polished Instagram post and in the process scorches Polaris. (Bekefy Twitter)

In other words, “Anything Polaris/Indian can do, Harley can do better.”  Clearly the General Manager of Brand Marketing at Harley-Davidson doesn’t want to get upstaged.

We all know that Harley-Davidson is not just a bike, it’s a choice.  An existential decision and the life that follows upon it.

Wait.  That statement may not be as defensible, since Harley is now promising to be another “transportation” manufacture delivering a Chinese 338cc bike where affordability remains paramount to the upscale EV future of two-wheel transportation and includes all bicycle types in between.

As Indian and Harley arm wrestle each other over boomer-centric models, it has a limited lifespan and is unlikely to generate a lot of new riders, but it’s pure theater and fun to watch!

Photo courtesy Instagram.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

Indian Challenger vs Harley-Davidson Road Glide

Earlier this week, Indian announced the “Challenger Challenge,” a campaign that invites motorcyclists to test ride the Challenger and the Harley-Davidson Road Glide® Special back-to-back for a head-to-head comparison.

It’s not the typical, behind-the-scenes advertising effort by Indian to sell a product in its own time and in its own way.  Instead, it’s a high-visibility campaign marked with in-your-face marketing which proclaims — the Challenger will absolutely “smoke the competition.”

That’s a blue-collar craftsmen and beer-bellied “motor-head” inflammatory call to battle!

Will Harley-Davidson laugh and say, ‘Good try, bad result‘ expecting it to reinvigorate the Road Glide sales or will the Milwaukee gurus sit up and make a hard-eyed comparison of the competition’s strengths?

I’ve posted previously that motorcycle growth rates domestically are decelerating.  Wall Street is worried that the motor company has tapped out demand for their line-up as sales cool.

Challenger Challenge Stats

My initial reaction of the Indian campaign was, it being reminiscent of the 1980’s when commercials were a sign of the times — desperate, struggling times that car manufactures hoped would turn prosperous.  You might remember, “If You Can Find a Better Car, Buy It” ad campaign?  The face behind that familiar slogan was Ronald DeLuca — the advertising whiz hired by Chrysler Corporation chairman Lee Iacocca to turn around Chrysler’s late-1970s death plunge in a recession-weary America.

Indian has the not-so-simple task of convincing Americans that the motorcycling passion isn’t an archaic lifestyle teetering on the edge of the toilet bowl.  Or if Millennials are truly killing motorcycles, then why not ride it out in style with a new Indian Challenger!

Carey Hart and Big B

The Challenger Challenge is set to launch at Daytona Bike Week on Friday, March 6th.  The product demo tour will visit Indian Motorcycle dealers around the country, as well as select motorcycle rallies and events, including Sturgis in August. In addition to the national tour, select Indian Motorcycle dealers will have a Road Glide on hand to ensure that any customer who visits their dealership can take the Challenger Challenge.

Of course there will be a full-court press with social hashtags and digital media including a video series where Carey Hart and Bryan “Big B” Mahoney, pit the new Indian Challenger against the Road Glide Special in a series of rubber burning tests that showcase power, torque, braking and handling.

We will know soon enough if the campaign is more about finding new customers who don’t necessarily want to own a motorcycle or boosting the Indian public image and extending the brand’s good name.

Photos courtesy of Indian Motorcycle.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

2020 CVO™ Road Glide®

Mid-way through the motor company 2020 model year — Harley re-introduces a CVO™ Road Glide®.

Similar to the 2019 model, the re-launched 2020 CVO (Custom Vehicle Operations) motorcycle is packed with aesthetic and performance features.  Of course, there’s the 117-cubic-inch Milwaukee-Eight Big Twin (includes color accented Rocker Box Lowers), a heavy breather air cleaner with a factory rating of 128 lb.-ft. of torque which is five percent more than 114-inch engine.

The CVO Road Glide’s sub-27-inch seat height will provide a wide variety of riders a solid feel in the saddle.  There is a high-output BOOM!™ GTS infotainment system, as well as a 21-inch front and 18-inch rear wheels, finished in Gloss Black and Contrast Smoked Satin.  New for several 2020 touring models and now included on the CVO Road Glide is the subscription-based cellular connectivity, where you can connect to your bike through a smart phone using the Harley-Davidson® App and check the bike’s vitals including fuel level, get tamper alerts and stolen-vehicle tracking, and more.  The motorcycle is complemented with the “phat” heated Kahuna™ collection hand grips and controls.

CVO™ Road Glide® Heavy Breather

What might be behind this un-typical launch?

It’s called twelve consecutive quarters of U.S. sales decline. As previously reported, Harley-Davidson motorcycle sales slipped again in 2019 despite new models and expanded overseas operations.

In addition, it’s part of their “More Roads to Harley-Davidsonaccelerated resuscitation plan for growth and part of the 2017-2027 Objectives — Launch 100 new high-impact Harley-Davidson® motorcycles — which allows management to check a box for investors on a “new product.”

The good news is that if you want a 2020 CVO (only available in Sand Dune) parked in your garage, it’s going to cost you LESS!  Yes, less. The MSRP is $40,999.00, a reduction of $1,340.00 than last year.  The MSRP on the 2019 CVO Road Glide was $42,339.00 and for comparison the 2018 CVO Road Glide was $42,949.00

CVO’s are the badge-and-shield brand’s shining beacon on the hill!

It’s a borrowed analogy from John Winthrop, the first governor of Massachusetts who, upon setting sail for New England in 1630, wrote that, “We shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us.”

The eyes of motorcycle enthusiasts are upon Harley-Davidson…

Photos courtesy of Harley-Davidson

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

The motor company gets beat down by critics for lack of technology advancements and then they’re pummeled on social media by customers every time they sway off from tradition.

In this category, the rock and hard place are A) the need for change and B) the danger of following the buzz.  And, in an increasingly social media driven world it is easy, and tempting, to mistake the buzz and savvy social pundits for a real business opportunity.

Simultaneously, the Wall Street view of Harley-Davidson’s move into electric motorcycles being an enduring trend will likely come up dry.  Then the industry analysts believe the U.S. motorcycle market is in terminal decline and are not influenced by a “fun appliance” and the More Roads to Harley-Davidson plan.

But, for many riding enthusiasts, the motor company has introduced so many changes over the last few years its difficult to know where to start.  I’m not talking paint colors, rather engineering developments, i.e. water-cooled engines, Reflex Linked Brakes with ABS,  Reflex Defensive Rider System (RDRS), subscription-based cellular connectivity, advanced electronics with Bluetooth connectivity, voice recognition (microphone/headphone fitted to the rider’s helmet), text to speech technology, sophisticated GPS navigation system, wind tunnel designs to reduce head buffeting, LED lights, revised manufacturing processes, 131 cubic inch Screamin’ Eagle® Crate Motor and the first great-looking electric motorcycle (LiveWire) along with a large number of smaller updates.

The list goes on and on….

Other than the fact that the motorcycles are not inexpensive and in several instances most everyone would consider as very expensive, there’s not much else really to grumble about.

Yet, Harley-Davidson stated yesterday in the Q4 2019 and year-end financial report that its motorcycle sales slipped again!  Despite multiple new models, electrification, expanded overseas operations and Brand strategies to resuscitate demand.

The 4th quarter 2019 net income was $13.5 million on consolidated revenue of $1.07 billion versus net income of $0.5 million on consolidated revenue of $1.15 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018.  That brought full-year 2019 revenue to $5.36 billion, compared with $5.72 billion in 2018.  For 2019, earnings were $2.68 a share, compared with $3.19 in 2018. Adjusted earnings for 2019 were $3.36 a share, down from $3.78.  Harley-Davidson sold 7% fewer units in Q4’19 than a year earlier. The U.S. dealers which account for half of worldwide Harley sales, saw their retail sales fall 3%.

CEO Matt Levatich tried to curb the narrative numbers skid (12th consecutive quarter of U.S. retail sales decline!) in the company’s announcement, saying, “Our performance in Q4 and the full year was in line with our expectations and indicative of increased business stability.”

I am reminded that in matters of business, it’s often the case that the most vehement of corporate assertions are at 180 degrees to inconvenient facts.

The freedom of the open road is all very well, but remaining in the marketplace and growing is key. The motor company should avoid “stooping to compete” with the rest of motorcycling (i.e. chasing buzz).  Harley is iconic because, instead of treating motorcycles as a commodity, it recognizes them as a basis for a lifestyle and a shared set of attitudes

Photos courtesy of Harley-Davidson

UPDATE: January 30, 2020 — added: 12th consecutive quarter of U.S. sales decline.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

New Year’s Eve is one of the largest global celebrations, marking the last day of the year and for this year marking the end of the decade.

Are you one of those? You know… the type who likes to argue that 2019 isn’t *really* the end of the decade. Because there is no year 0 in the Anno Domini system which our calendars are based on and the first year ever was year one (1) therefore, the first year of any and all subsequent decades is the one ending in one (1).

Merriam-Webster offers up that it’s defined by popular culture and common usage so, decades end after the 9 year and I’m holding steady with that definition to close out the decade!

Lets move off the Anno Domini system.

A new year is a naturally introspective time, it’s a renewal—starting with a clean slate so’s to speak. Most will consider the year’s past challenges, celebrate the year’s past accomplishments and look forward to the future. It often provides a time to set new goals. Maybe a new motorcycle adventure, new gear, a new project bike, set a new mileage goal, turn the motel miles in and really tent camp at the 80th Sturgis Rally or maybe you dream of a cross-country adventure on Harley’s new Pan America(ADV) motorcycle and resolve to ride the Trans-America Trail across the U.S. from coast to coast—off road!

I don’t typically make a New Year’s resolution, but I think if pushed for something in 2020, I am going do more of what I enjoy—ride more, learn something new with a wrench, and improve my riding. Then again, I resolve to ride more often than annually anyway.

Some of you are already aware of this, but for those who aren’t, Team Oregon has an outstanding rider training program for all skill sets. Check them out.

Happy New Year to you and yours! Lets ride into a happier year and watch out for yourselves and watch out for your brothers and sisters in the wind.

Photo courtesy of Harley-Davidson

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

“Harley-jiang” 338cc

A ‘false friend’ (‘faux amis’ in French) is a word in two languages that on the face of it sounds or looks alike, but which does not share the same meaning or which may even mean the opposite.

When you communicate with people from other countries in another language than your own, you need to consider both cultural and language differences if you want to engage in a good, honest and accurate dialogue.

Speaking of another language…

Press reports have circulated since June that Harley-Davidson is working with the Quianjiang (QJ) motor group to introduce its ultra-affordable (parallel-twin) motorcycle for the Chinese market. According to this article, both motorcycle manufactures have approved the final design of the motorcycle by ‘signing off’ publicly.  The new motorcycle is a parallel-twin streetbike, which is currently expected to launched in the Chinese market by the end of 2020.

For motorcyclists of a certain age, parallel-twin sport bikes are synonymous with British iron of the ’70s. Ride one down the street and watch as babies point and smile, dogs chase joyfully, angsty teens fight the curling in the corners of their mouths, old biker types in leather nod with appreciation.

But, I’ve digressed…

The manufacturing and production of the motorcycle will be done by Qianjiang, a motorcycle-building giant in China. Since 2016 it’s been owned by automotive behemoth Geely, which sells cars under its own name but also owns more familiar western brands Volvo and Lotus as well as the upcoming car firm Lynk&Co. Qianjiang itself sells motorcycles under brands including Keeway, Generic, KSR-Moto and, Benelli.

The Italian-branded part of this equation is most relevant.  While true motorcycle enthusiasts will recognize the Italian roots associated with the Benelli brand, the company is no longer authentically Italian.  Since 2005 Benelli has been a part of the Qjianjiang (QJ) motor group, the largest capacity manufacturer of motorcycles in China. Qjianjiang produces over 1.2M vehicles per year at its super modern factory in Wenling, about 250 miles from Shanghai. With over 14,000 employees, the factory is as big as many cities.  Benelli is one of the oldest Italian motorcycle brands, now Chinese-made machines. The motorcycle company once manufactured acclaimed shotguns, although that part of the business is now a separate company.

According to this post: A modern Benelli will offer you poor build quality, vibrations, a finish that’s below what anyone would expect of a modern motorcycle, and depending on the model, you can also get a motorcycle with bad power to weight ratio and less than inspiring handling. “What a great way to spend our hard-earned money…”

The design of the joint “Harley-jiang” 338cc parallel-twin engine motorcycle is heavily inspired (inspired = essentially a parts-bin special slapped together to meet demand) by the Benelli 302S. The current thinking is to borrow parts so the motorcycle development can be accelerated.  The motorcycle shares the trellis frame, motor, swing-arm, suspension and braking components with the Benelli 302S.  A trellis frame connects the steering head to the swing-arm pivot as directly as possible using metal tube arranged in triangulated reinforcement. Using lattice girder principles, a trellis frame is typically constructed of round or oval section metal tubular segments that are welded or brazed together.  I think Ducati when I hear trellis frame!  Also, in using the crankshaft from the Benelli 302S, with a stroke of 45.2mm, and the pistons and cylinders of the TRK and Leoncino 500cc engine – which uses a 69mm bore – you get the 338cc.

Harley-Davidson’s “More Roads” plan is all about bringing it’s brand of freedom to more people around the world.  That marketing strategy/message seems naive and incredibly ironic given the human rights abuses in China and the “police state” in Hong Kong!  I’m unclear how the Chinese Harley-Davidson inspired motorcycle maverick ― Stickin’ It to the Man ― will square given everything is completely controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.

In connecting the title of this post back to China; “There are few things worse than mistaking an enemy for a friend.” ― Wayne Gerard Trotman

If you want to observe first-hand a commercial website in disarray visit Benelli.

Photo rendering courtesy of Harley-Davidson

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: