Last Friday, Harley Davidson announced their acquisition of the Italian motorcycle manufacturer, MV Agusta, and many have weighed in on the pros and cons of the move, some think it’s a good idea, others aren’t so sure. If you haven’t made up your mind, consider what else is going on in the U.S. business environment and then look at Harley’s move again.
Over the weekend, Anheuser-Busch was taken over by Belgium-based InBev. That’s right, the American King of Beers will now be owned by a European firm. GM, Ford and Chrysler are bleeding dollars. Many U.S. companies are slipping under water or being purchased, and yet, Harley Davidson, though not unscathed by any means, is actually expanding around the world.
Harley Davidson is celebrating 105 years in business, think of all of the firms that have come and gone during those years, and while U.S. automakers are selling off brands and letting others die, while custom motorcycle manufacturers are falling left and right, while companies like BMW are encountering a slowdown, Harley Davidson buys MV Agusta and expands in Europe. Yes, scooter sales seem to be up as a less intimidating option for drivers looking to save on gas but heavyweight motorcycles aren’t flying out of showrooms. Harley Davidson is nevertheless, opening dealerships in China and Taiwan, they’ve introduced their new XR1200 in Europe, they’re doing OK, and now they are making their line broader with MV Agusta. The engineering influence in both directions could have an interesting effect and the marketing efforts of The Motor Company could help MV Agusta in Europe and the U.S..
There’s no guarantee this will all be positive, the move may stumble for reasons unforeseen, but Harley deserves praise for making a move that could give the brand a larger presence world wide and more stability as the brands support one another. Criticize the move if you want, my bet is on Harley.