Harley Davidson International Growth

Image from Live By It - Harley Davidson

Harley Davidson just announced it set a record for quarterly revenue and earnings which means it's doing pretty darn good and it's always nice to see that. If you read the press release you find retail sales up in the U.S. by 6.9% but it's the international sales where things really happen:

Retail sales of Harley-Davidson motorcycles grew 18.7 percent in international markets during the third quarter of 2006 compared to the third quarter of 2005. Third quarter retail sales increased 13.7 percent in Japan; Europe was up 9.9 percent; Canada was up 30.2 percent and all other international markets combined were up 35.4 percent.

It starts a person wondering how HD markets a motorcycle in countries around the world since what you see here in the U.S. is a very "cowboy on the open road" sort of image and I can't believe that plays as well in Japan or Germany or most anywhere else, ... well Australia, maybe. The short film, "Live By It" on the U.S. website isn't found on the other sites and it underscores how the biker lifestyle is the whole point here while in Europe you have the XR1200.

A lot of folks like to criticize Harley for their old style technology or their image or whatever, I'm not one of them. I think you go with what works and they are obviously doing something right. I do wish they would offer bikes like the new prototype XR1200 here and give this market a chance to buy it, it would prove or disprove whether that market exists. You can endlessly debate the issue in the marketing department or put it in the showroom and see what happens which ends the debate rather quickly, but as I noted earlier, it may interfere with the image.

If international sales are growing as they seem to be, it will be interesting to watch Harley Davidson and whether some of the lessons they learn overseas ever come back to our shores.

Link: Harley Davidson press release
Image source: Harley Davidson "Live By It"


  1. says

    I know the press release states “Harley Davidsons…” It would be interesting to see how much of this international growth is attributable to Buell.

    I had the pleasure of visiting Italy this past summer. I was amazed (in a positive way) by the number of Buells I encountered between Cortina in Northern Italy and Florence.

    There were 19, XB-series Buells at one hotel, alone. 19.

    I’ve always liked Buells, especially the new platform. It was cool (& struck me as somewhat odd) to see that a Buell Firebolt looked & sounded even better in Italy.

  2. Richard says

    Ditto on the theory that it’s probably mostly Buells. However, old American music and culture (50, 60’s) is very popular in Japan so maybe they are buying HD’s to try to emulate James Dean or Marlon Brando.

    BTW, percentages don’t tell us much. If they sold 1 last year and 2 this year, that’s a 100% increase!

    “I do wish they would offer bikes like the new prototype XR1200 here and give this market a chance to buy it, it would prove or disprove whether that market exists.”

    They tried that with the VROD. It is shunned by all the “real” HD bikers, and its sales figures are dismal in the US.