Is this related to my prior post in any way?
U.S. retail sales of Harley-Davidson motorcycles during
the first quarter of 2005 have been relatively flat with the same period last
year-falling short of our expectations. Despite our continued optimism for
the year, we feel it is prudent to limit short-term production growth,
maintaining demand in excess of supply.
Harley is now managing how many bikes are produced to maintain the illusion of high demand. An analyst goes on:
For years, Harley never knew its true growth rate,” Edward Aaron, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets in Denver, said in a note to investors. “Harley’s underlying growth rate is lower than management or investors perceived.” Aaron said the decline in the forecast “runs much deeper” than the drop in first-quarter sales.
Now before anyone jumps on me for suggesting Harleys and choppers are synonymous, I’ll just say, choppers and Harleys are a lot closer to one another than they are to Suzukis or Ducatis. I also believe the motorcycle market in general is a bit flat.
If you buy a bike to ride on the basis of performance or how it might go on the race track or drag strip or if you commute or cross country cruise, you’re buying a functional motorcycle that may also have great appearance and style even if you just cruise around town. But when you sell motorcycles solely or predominantly on the basis of style, your share of the motorcycle dollar is in danger of falling quickly if styles should happen to change. How many Harleys are sold because someone sees one of the chopper shows and wants to be a part of that world and a Harley represents the chopper bad boy image to them? What if choppers become “so last year.”
Harley’s big bikes make nice cruisers but the rest of the line isn’t performance or function oriented. They sell a lot more of the style and lifestyle than function. Of course, buyers of GSXR’s and Ninja’s aren’t necessarily going to race, most just ride the streets, they, too, are buying a style of sorts but it’s a style based on actual potential function, not style based on, … well, style. The big chrome custom choppers are style, period.
I have to refine this a bit and I don’t want to completely combine these two ideas but the Harley forecast was interesting.