In light of our story last week about Harley's increasing sales in some segments of the market, it's interesting that Harley Davidson Chief Operating Officer, Matt Levatich, has just said the company will offer bikes that are more physically and financially accessible. Evidently the entry level Sportsters are not enough to bring in the sales growth they're looking for even though they're selling pretty well.
According to a Reuters article, Levatich made the comments at the Reuters Global Manufacturing and Transportation Summit. He didn't expand on exactly what he meant or the time frame involved so we can speculate all we want, but smaller, lighter and less expensive is in the Motor Company's future.
The article says he also addressed the issue of where they plan to build bikes going forward:
... the company will continue to do the bulk of its manufacturing in the United States, where it assembles nearly all the bikes it sells in the world. It also does some "complete-knock-down" assembly of motorcycles in Brazil and India due to tariff issues in those countries.
If the company should some day sell a bike that appeals only to emerging markets, he said the company would keep its options open on where to build it. But for now, it has no plans to open production plants outside the United States.
It will be interesting to see how they enter this "smaller, lighter, cheaper" segment while retaining the Harley brand image. It's not surprising and makes a great deal of sense when you consider markets in Asia, but, good idea or not, how they implement this move in the US may be a bit tricky, because the Harley faithful continue to be put off by anything that changes their impression of what the Motor Company makes, even if that view hampers efforts by Harley to become more competitive in the market they're dealing with.