Harley-Davidson is looking to exploit the expanding Electric Vehicles (EV) market and "Project LiveWire", the electric Harley-Davidson, has received encouraging feedback in the demo stage.
Global retail motorcycle sales fell 6.7% in 2017, compared with the prior year, with USA sales down 8.5% and worldwide sales declining 3.9%.
A switch to electric, even for just one bike in the lineup, is no sure bet to save Harley-Davidson. Harley-Davidson U.S. market share was 50.8% in the 601+cc segment in the fourth quarter. Polaris Industries Inc. (NYSE:PII), a one-time rival of Harley-Davidson, started winding down its "Victory" motorcycle operations in early 2017.
A sharp drop in motorcycle sales for Harley-Davidson previous year is going to cost 800 people their jobs. Levatich said Tuesday the feedback from those rides and other research gives the company confidence an electric motorcycle will be attractive to new riders and existing Harley customers.
The company said the closing of the Kansas City plant is an attempt to improve manufacturing operations and cost structure.
Harley-Davidson's retail motorcycle sales were off sharply in the company's latest quarterly earnings report.
"For years, the North American heavyweight motorcycle industry grew at double-digit rates due to low interest rates, a strong economy, a rising stock market and. the baby boomers". And I see it so often-whenever I go-whenever there's a motorcycle group, oftentimes it's a Harley.
In the USA, motorcycle sales tumbled 8.5%; in Latin America, sales were down 2.6%; in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, motorcycle sales fell 2.0%; and in Asia Pacific, sales plunged 7.7%.
Harley-Davidson cut 200 US manufacturing jobs in September of 2016. It expects to ship 231,000 to 236,000 motorcycles this year, after selling 241,498 in 2017, the lowest since 2011.
"The EV motorcycle market is in its infancy today, but we believe premium Harley-Davidson electric motorcycles will help drive excitement and participation in the sport globally", stated [president and CEO Matt] Levatich.
Harley-Davidson announced this morning it will consolidate its motorcycle assembly plant in Kansas City, Missouri to its plant located in Springettsbury Township, York County. The final assembly work done there will instead take place at the company's York, Pennsylvania plant.
In its first estimate for the fourth quarter, Eurostat, the European Union's statistics agency, said Tuesday that the 19-country single currency bloc expanded by 0.6 percent in the October-December period from the three months before.