Is Harley Davidson going to Survive the present Economic Depression?

California Motorcycle Accident Lawyer and Biker Attorney Norman Gregory Fernandez Harley Davidson Electra Glide
California Motorcycle Accident Lawyer and Biker Attorney Norman Gregory Fernandez's Harley Davidson Electra Glide

I recently read an article by Steve Parker of the Huffington Post which painted a bleak picture of Harley Davidson’s current, present, and future financial situation.

He cited an October 15, 2009 press release which stated:

“Worldwide retail sales of new Harley-Davidson motorcycles declined 21.3 percent in the third quarter compared to last year’s third quarter, an improvement from the 30.1 percent decline in this year’s second quarter. An 84.1 percent decline in net income and an 84.5 percent decline in diluted earnings per share from the year-ago quarter reflected lower motorcycle shipments and the effects of the economy on retail and wholesale loan performance at Harley-Davidson Financial Services.”

He also discusses Harley Davidson’s shut down of the East Troy, WI factory where Buell sport bikes are manufactured putting 180 people out of work. This adds to the 1,100 factory workers that Harley Davidson laid off in January 2009.

He also discusses the fact that Harley Davidson purchased Agusta Motorcycles of Italy for $109 million dollars in 2008 before the depression hit. Augusta also builds Cagiva motorcycles. Now Harley Davidson is looking to sell Augusta.

Steve’s article is downright disparaging of bikers and motorcyclist such as me who buy and ride Harley Davidson’s. He makes an analogy comparing Harley Davidson’s to Hummer’s, by stating (in his words not mine)

“Harley-Davidsons, like Hummers, are overpriced, overweight and overwrought. Buyers who wanted a Harley would accept nothing less, though, similar to Hummer buyers, and with fast and easy cash pouring through the economy starting in the 1980s and continuing through the end of 2008, the bikes sold in record numbers.

The company even established a modern image while still considered ruffian and gangster-like, something H-D does little to downplay in its advertising or even on its website.

Many recent owners probably would never have bought a H-D if “bigger is better” vehicles didn’t become a symbol of success in those phony mortgage-backed security years.

Is a Harley-Davidson nothing but a two-wheel Hummer? And is that necessarily a bad thing”

I think Steve is over reaching and full of crap in this regard. I myself do not ride a Harley Davidson for status. I love my Electra Glide and there is no comparable motorcycle like it on the market. A Honda Goldwing does not have enough leg room, and the other big touring bikes do not compare. Anyway, I am getting off subject here.

Steve goes on to cite the fact that the Love Ride was cancelled this year as a basis for his article which paints a bleak future for Harley Davidson.

He states that “But as it has for Hummer and other American motoring products including Plymouth and Saturn, the economy seems ready to come down on Harley-Davidson.”

Although there are some disparaging remarks about bikers and motorcyclist in Steve Parker’s article, it is a good read and raises some serious issues to contemplate with respect to whether Harley Davidson will survive the current depression.

You can read his article at The Huffington Post by clicking here.

By California Motorcycle Accident Lawyer and Biker Attorney Norman Gregory Fernandez, © 2009

4 Responses to Is Harley Davidson going to Survive the present Economic Depression?

  1. I like to believe harley won’t go under. I see a major scaling down of the company and lots of dealers closing.Harley going away, no. I think there are enough die hard, I swear by my harley riders out there to keep the company going in a reduced capacity through the hard times. But it might boil down to the ownership of the harley brand to not throw in the towel. staying the course with reduced profits maybe even just breaking even for a while. they will need to believe in the product and the lifestyle. Live the life! if I have to explain……. Know what i’m saying?
    We have to hope that if it comes down to it, it will be about whats important and not the money! We have to believe and do our part to keep them in business.

  2. Norm there are dealerships closing here in Florida. I wonder if I am going to make it through this economic mess!! Things are scary out here!!! I hope Harley can muddle through some way!!! I am like you I have a Fatboy because that is what I liked….not status!!!

  3. HD didn’t want to sell Buells, now it won’t even sell the company. So Buell is DOA.

    But selling MV Agustas at $120,000 each, and paying $100-million for the company, just to sell it at a loss 1 year later, that’s good business!

    That’s what happens when greedy executives import engines and parts for Europe and Commie China, as the “Federal” Reserve Accounting Unit Dollar F.R.A.U.D. exhange rate is crashed by design. Welcome to the New World Odor, as Saddam Hussein Obama Bin Laden signs away US sovereignity on 9 December, for Al Gore’s Global Warming Taxscam.

    Time for Revolution?

  4. I would like to believe the same thing as well Walt. However, when you a publicly traded company, you are expected to provide results to the shareholders. As a matter of fact you have a fiduciary duty to the shareholders to make a profit. In this regard the customers are irrelevant.

    Unless Harley Davidson can make a profit, the shareholders will eventually either get rid of the current Board of Directors, or sue, or let the shares continue to dump.

    Unless Harley Davidson can turn it around, they may get sold. Imagine someone like Honda buying Harley Davidson! Since Harley Davidson is a public company, anything can happen.

    Now if a private buyer stepped in and took Harley Davidson private again, well, they could do what they want as well.


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