Does the recovery start here? Harley-Davidson posts Q3 green amid the red

Harley-Davidson posts some more encouraging Q3 figures to lighten the bleakness as it prepares to turn its attentions to launch the crucial Pan America ADV

Harley-Davidson Pan America

A faint light at the end of a long tunnel may be appearing in the distance for Harley-Davidson after it posted its most encouraging quarter for a couple of years with a growth in income and only a modest dip in revenue.

Income rose in the Q3 (July-August-September) while European sales of Harley-Davidson’s ascended, though revenue was still down ($1.17b versus $1.27b in 2019) and American H-D sales were off 8%.

First and foremost these aren’t numbers to be getting too excited about just yet - the dip in revenue isn’t loose change, after all - but given the upheaval from both Harley-Davidson’s Jochen Zeitz-initiated Hardwire strategy and slump brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns, it’s a step in the right direction.

Moreover, while the intricate details of the Hardwire strategy remains a touch mysterious for now, we do know Harley-Davidson is soaking up some heavy impacts for the greater good, including the expense of exiting the Indian market and the decision to put an entire new model - the Bronx - on the back burner for now.

In fact, Harley-Davidson 2020 fortunes are fairly in line with the wider market with sales hampered by the aforementioned lockdown, before then benefitting from the upsurge in sales in the ensuing months.

Crucially, as RideApart points out, the boom in the adventure sector appears to be leaving Harley-Davidson missing a trick since it doesn’t have entry into this market… yet.

Only last week we got a glimpse of the new Pan America on European soils as it heads off on a tour of dealerships on the continent to drum up interest for a machine that has been waiting in the wings for a long time now.

While Harley-Davidson’s attempts to crack new markets - especially those which haven’t traditionally been so popular in the US - has been more miss than hit, there is a quiet confidence the Pan America has what it takes to rub shoulders with the likes of BMW’s all-conquering R 1250 GS Adventure.

Even so, this means the Pan America - for all of its stars and stripes name - is a crucial model for Harley-Davidson in a global sense, together with the more humdrum but logical 338R baby Harley which is preparing to get its launch in Asia.

The Harley-Davidson of the US might be gearing more towards sustaining its cruiser core business but as those rising European sales show, it shouldn’t be discounting its potential elsewhere just yet.