Harley Davidson will offer cheaper, lighter, and smaller motorcycles

By: Dodsfall
December 15th, 2011
6:14 am

Harley Davidson will offer cheaper, lighter, and smaller motorcycles

Matt Levatich, Harley Davidson's chief operating officer, said the company will offer bikes that are more physically and financially accessible at the Reuters Global Manufacturing and Transportation Summit this week. Increasing market share in emerging markets seems to be the goal.

"In the past, our market was predominantly core customers in the United States," Levatich said. "We see an opportunity, not to make (scooter-sized) bikes by any stretch, but to make Harley-Davidsons that are physically and financially accessible for emerging markets, for international markets, for the United States for that matter."

No plans are being made for manufacture outside of the US, although "complete-knock-down" assembly plants are being used in India and Brazil to get around tariff regulations in those countries. Harley Davidson has had issues with international partnerships in the past, specifically an Italian distributor who didn't promote the larger bikes as the company wished. Harley Davidson has so far resisted partnering with Chinese companies for the manufacture of motorcycles for sale in Asia.

"We feel we were aided in waiting a little bit and not getting in early with a JV partner that had a different idea of what the Harley brand could be or should be," Levatich said. "Part of the decision to go in on our own was because of the cleanup work we've had to do, a lot of the cleanup work was where we were buying out distributors and resetting the market."

The less expensive motorcycles are planned to be marketed in the US as well as emerging markets worldwide. Currently, Harley Davidson's exports amount to about 35% of it's sales, up from 25% just a few years ago. The motor company plans to have 40% of it's sales as exports by 2014.


[The Kneeslider | Reuters]

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24 comments on "Harley Davidson will offer cheaper, lighter, and smaller motorcycles"

  • JasonSK
    December 15, 2011 at 8:32 am

    Can't wait to see what they have to offer in these new bikes.

  • Neognosis
    December 15, 2011 at 9:15 am

    hmm.... This could be a good idea, especially if they made the branding slightly different to keep the imagined prestige of owning a "real" HD.

    Like call the smaller group of bikes something like Harley Davidson Performance Series or something like that.

  • Badlands-4-2
    December 15, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Even the 883 is considered a big bike in many parts of the world. This put HD bikes out of ereach for a huge part of the international market. It will be interesting to see what they come up with.

  • zmago
    December 15, 2011 at 10:02 am

    If they can make a 400 lb, 180 hp bike with a 100 cu. in., 45 degree pushrod V-twin with all-American parts and sell it for under $3000, they'll have a big hit on their hands.

  • BP03
    December 15, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    only took em what...20 years ? =P

    This could mean big things for the 1200 Sportsters and the V-Rod

  • ClassicVW
    December 15, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    They also realize that their customer base is rapidly aging. Smaller, lighter, and cheaper bikes not only gets them into emerging markets, but may get them a younger buyer in the U.S.A.

    They will definitely have to be called something different, or they will dilute the brand name.

  • sirgilbert357
    December 16, 2011 at 7:47 am

    Originally Posted by zmago
    If they can make a 400 lb, 180 hp bike with a 100 cu. in., 45 degree pushrod V-twin with all-American parts and sell it for under $3000, they'll have a big hit on their hands.
    Thats a joke right? The criteria are ALMOST possible, except for that one little problem with the price...Even the Japanese aren't pricing their bikes that low...

  • Badlands-4-2
    December 16, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Originally Posted by zmago
    If they can make a 400 lb, 180 hp bike with a 100 cu. in., 45 degree pushrod V-twin with all-American parts and sell it for under $3000, they'll have a big hit on their hands.
    Any manufacturer that hit those specs with a bike could sell them as fast as they could produce them. Harley needs to come up with a replacement for the Buell Blast, except that this one needs to be made overseas for the overseas markets. Many places overseas, motorcycles are primary transportation but American made bikes are crazy expensive because of tarifs and import taxes. The bike has to be made overseas to avoid the extra costs and be price competitive.

  • zmago
    December 16, 2011 at 9:30 am

    I forgot, it has to be air-cooled.

  • ReconLdr
    December 16, 2011 at 10:14 am

    Originally Posted by Dodsfall
    Matt Levatich, Harley Davidson's chief operating officer, said the company will offer bikes that are more physically and financially accessible at the Reuters Global Manufacturing and Transportation Summit this week. Increasing market share in emerging markets seems to be the goal.

    "In the past, our market was predominantly core customers in the United States," Levatich said. "We see an opportunity, not to make (scooter-sized) bikes by any stretch, but to make Harley-Davidsons that are physically and financially accessible for emerging markets, for international markets, for the United States for that matter."

    No plans are being made for manufacture outside of the US, although "complete-knock-down" assembly plants are being used in India and Brazil to get around tariff regulations in those countries. Harley Davidson has had issues with international partnerships in the past, specifically an Italian distributor who didn't promote the larger bikes as the company wished. Harley Davidson has so far resisted partnering with Chinese companies for the manufacture of motorcycles for sale in Asia.

    "We feel we were aided in waiting a little bit and not getting in early with a JV partner that had a different idea of what the Harley brand could be or should be," Levatich said. "Part of the decision to go in on our own was because of the cleanup work we've had to do, a lot of the cleanup work was where we were buying out distributors and resetting the market."

    The less expensive motorcycles are planned to be marketed in the US as well as emerging markets worldwide. Currently, Harley Davidson's exports amount to about 35% of it's sales, up from 25% just a few years ago. The motor company plans to have 40% of it's sales as exports by 2014.


    [The Kneeslider | Reuters]
    I thought they tried this once before. [Buell]



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