Both, Buell riders and a potential investment group are asking Harley Davidson to at least sell the brand rather than shut it down completely. Walworth County officials are trying to get a group of buyers together, contacting a group in Chicago and another in Minneapolis. They have received no reply from Erik Buell to their offer to arrange such a deal, so he may not even be interested, but it's an option.
Buell riders are also circulating letters urging Harley to reconsider the shutdown and likewise, are asking them to sell the company if they have no interest in continuing the brand themselves.
Bob Klein, Harley's director of corporate communications, reiterated that Harley is "discontinuing the Buell product line rather than selling the business because of how deeply integrated Buell is into our business systems and distribution network."
The statement by Klein is unfortunate, Harley Davidson seems to indicate they could not run Buell in a profitable manner and no one else should be given the opportunity to try. The "deeply integrated" argument sounds hollow because the new owners can worry about getting it running, setting up their own suppliers and distribution, Harley just needs to let go.
The business case from Harley Davidson is pretty clear, Buell is losing money so shut it down. What is hard to understand is their refusal to sell it to another group that may be more passionate about the brand and willing to do what it takes to make it a success. There is no indication that the decision was made in anything other than a sincere effort to save Harley from further losses, but to bury the brand rather than sell it seems short sighted at best.
UPDATE: This just in:
Erik Buell and his band The Thunderbolts will be playing this Saturday:
10/24/2009 9:00 PM at Dry Dock Saloon & Shipwreck
27045 W Grass Lake Rd, Antioch, Illinois 60002
Related: Buell to be Discontinued