Harley-Davidson US sales slump for a fifth consecutive year

Harley-Davidson motorcycles sales in the United States slide for a fifth consecutive year as company turns its attentions to overseas investment

Harley-Davidson LiveWire

Harley-Davidson motorcycle sales have dropped in the United States for the fifth year in a row as the American company continues to reel from a struggle to attract new customers in its domestic market.

The Milwaukee-based manufacturer has now seen US retail sales slip in 20 of the last 21 quarters, stretching right back to 2014 when it last posted a significant upturn.

Though the slowdown in the final quarter was less pronounced than previous quarters, 2019 Q4 still represented a 3% decline year-on-year. The disappointing sales – which missed earlier more positive estimates – have seen shares drop by 8.7% in premarket trading, according to Bloomberg.

It comes as Harley-Davidson undergoes a major model offensive to shift away from its reliance on cruiser and bagger models, which have formed the basis of its range for decades.

However, with younger audiences currently swerving H-D in favour of its trendier rivals, the company has fought back with the launch of the LiveWire electric sportsbike, while the new Bronx streetfighter and PanAmerica ADV wait in the wings to diversify the range further.

Harley-Davidson turns attention to overseas revenue

Despite the outcome, Harley-Davidson has said it doesn’t expect to see significant revenue growth until 2021 when its currentoverhaul is complete and the costs involved with developing new models like the LiveWire, Bronx and Pan America are returned in sales.

Either way, Harley-Davidson has recognised it cannot rely on the US market to fill the profit margins, with emerging markets in Asia Pacific set to form the basis for revenue growth. It was the only region to post a sales increase for the brand in 2019.

The company has already confirmed a new middleweight HD350 will go into production later this year to be sold in Asian markets, with more models set to follow. Harley-Davidson is targeting 50% of revenue to come from overseas markets by 2027.

Harley-Davidson has also pointed out the detrimental effect Donald Trump’s tariff war has had on the company, which saw its models abroad multiply in price overnight as a result. The company has now built a factory in Thailand in an effort to side-step the tariffs.