Industry

Harley-Davidson takes evasive action in wake of COVID-19

All bike manufacturers have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, but Harley-Davidson might just be feeling it the most

THE global pandemic that is COVID-19 has been bad news for pretty much every global industry. In fact, unless you’re a toilet roll magnate or hand sanitiser tycoon, 2019 has been a pretty crap year so far.

In the land of motorcycling, the story is much the same; bikes aren’t or can’t get sold, riders, until now, couldn’t ride and the nation has a feeling of financial apprehension as we begin to move out of the crisis.

One company that is probably going to feel the pinch more than any other is Harley-Davidson. The firm has for some time now been fighting an uphill battle, as the demographic of the typical Harley owner gets older and their cruisers and tourers fail to light a fire in younger riders.

There is another problem for Harley to get around now, which will only come to light as the crisis ends. The brand has always been there for the blue-collar American, not just the octogenarian who has just cashed in their pension. But for many of those all-American blue-collar Harley owners, their future is looking as bleak as the 117-year-old companies.

Many American’s working in the industrial and automotive sectors, a previous prime hunting ground for H-D owners, will have been laid off work or left on a lower rate of pay that before the pandemic. The chances of one of these folks waltzing into a Harley dealership and plonking a stack of Benjamins on the counter and pointing at a shiny new steed are exceptionally low indeed.

How do Harley-Davidson plan to survive post COVID-19?

To counter this, we have seen unconfirmed reports that Harley-Davidson has implemented a series of measures to try and ride out the inevitable financial low that always follows a storm such as Coronavirus.

The plan includes cutting back on all non-essential spending, temporary salary reductions, CEO and board members to forgo salary/cash compensation, 30% reduction in executive leadership, 10-20% reduction for US salaried employees, no merit increases for 2020, no new staff until further notice.

The measures are reported to be getting reassessed at the end of the second quarter (end of June 2020).

Do you think Harley-Davidson can ride out this particular storm, or are we about to watch one of the biggest ships in the motorcycle world vanish beneath the waves?

Comments

An uphill battle implies at least a small amount of uphill movement. It's more like a down hill runaway truck looking for a runaway truck ramp to halt the descent. 5 years of continually declining sales isn't an uphill battle.

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