Harley-Davidson Softail FXDR axe

Harley-Davidson to axe 30% of planned models

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Harley-Davidson will axe 30% of its existing and future models, while the introduction of the 2021 range and new models will be moved from September to early next year.

Shiny new Harley-Davidson models for the year ahead usually start appearing on showroom floors across the world in September and October.

However, production has been slowed and new models delayed until early next year as part of a Rewire strategy for the company under new CEO Jochen Zeitz.

In announcing a poor sales and profit performance for the second quarter, Jochen says they have “reset” their product portfolio and launches of new models to coincide with the start of the Northern Hemisphere riding season in the New Year.

“We’re streamlining our motorcycle models by approximately 30%, with plans to further refine our product portfolio,” he says.

“This enables us to invest in the products and platforms that matter the most, while better balancing our investment in new high potential segments.”

Axe falls

Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe modern
Softail Deluxe

That means several underperforming models face the axe and new model releases scaled back.

This is a major departure from the “100 models in 10 years” plan of previous boss Matt Levatich only a couple of years ago.

In May, American website Total Motorcycle claimed the manufacturer’s list of 2021 models would axe the FXDR 114 (pictured top of page), Breakout 114 and Softail Deluxe.

They also said there were rumours all CVOs would face the axe for 2021.

Their list included the recently delayed Pan America 1250 adventure bike and the Bronx Streetfighter 975, plus a Softail Custom and a Sportster Streetfighter.

Harley Revolution Max platform includes Pan America and Bronx Streetfighter axe
Harley Revolution Max platform includes Pan America and Bronx Streetfighter

However, Jochen only mentioned the Pan America, the company’s first adventure motorcycle.

That could mean the Streetfighter range, which also uses the new liquid-cooled Revolution Max engine is among the 30% of new models being axed.

“We see strong potential in adventure touring and will launch Pan America globally next year,” he says.

“We will be going to market with an improved launch process. Beginning with model year 2021, we will shift our product launch and dealer reveal timing into early Q1, driving demand for products and sales for dealers at the start of the riding season.”

Traditional fans

But Harley isn’t turning its back on traditional Harley fans.

Jochen says they will “expand our offering of iconic motorcycles to those which most embody their spirit of Harley-Davidson”.

However, those fans will have to wait for the 2021 models to arrive.

“As we transition this year, we have extended our 2020 model year production through fall and expect model year 2021 bikes will arrive in dealer showrooms early in the New Year.

“We will invest into the new go-to-market capabilities and elevated product launches and investment into our brand using some of The Rewire savings.”

But don’t expect big discounts as we have seen in the past couple of years.

Jochen says they have scaled back production. To make bikes more “exclusive” and “significantly” reduce discounting price promotions.

“This drives retail pricing to help preserve the value and desirability of Harley-Davidson motorcycles for its customers and brand,” he says.

Merchandise

The new boss is also driving up the merchandise, parts and accessories side of the business.

He says they will push parts and accessories sales at dealerships by promoting customisation.

The company also hopes to attract new customers through investing in new technology for their apparel range.

  1. I’m waiting for the delivery of my 5th Harley. Been riding this marque for 26 years. It all started to turn to shite when Willy retired and the accountants took over. Get out and find out what your buyers want, then deliver.

  2. Harley boneheads NEED to go out and talk to owners and ask them what WE would like to buy. Harley is NOT the owner, WE are the owners of the bike, NOT harley! WE buy the bikes, design the bikes the way we want. Pardon my french everybody….Harley has come out with some of the shortest colors I’ve ever seen, and their accessory market SUCKS!
    You Harley big wings, get off of your over paid, have no clue what riders want asses and go out an GET A CLUE!!!
    Call me…..I’ll meet with you and show you what needs to be done.

  3. What a shame… In this covid infested world the art of motorcycling is dealt a huge negative blow by the decision to further delay model release as well as cut into the very market that has brought them past success! I remember new model releases just a few years ago in the spring,,, then during the Sturgis Rally which Harley decided NOT TO ATTEND AND PARTICIPATE IN though between 250,000 to 400,000 people showed up, mostly driving Harleys, many of whom are patiently looking for their next model, LIKE ME! Im on my 2nd CVO and will not even consider buying a Harley that is not a CVO, and they not only further delay announcing new models but threaten to eliminate the CVO lineup? Seriously? What IDIOT is responsible for that? I’m on a ’15 CVO Road Glide Ultra and am prepared to buy another, but I will say this, keep up the bone-headed marketing decisions, Indian and Honda are starting to look a whole lot better!

  4. Cash strapped and now comes the fight for survival. If HD is to stay in the motorcycle business there are really only three options: Partner up with a foreign concern and offer built under license models that can go worldwide to a mass audience; sell off the motorcycle manufacturing operation to some industrial concern, possibly foreign; have a leveraged buyout from a venture capital concern which will pare off anything NOT making profit and only involve itself within the limits of whatever is deemed profitable. Souvenirs and clothing articles earn money, but nothing close to what is required to capitalize a manufacturing operation. Anything else is Monday-morning quarterbacking.

  5. Maybe Harley-Davidson could stop making all of their apparel overseas. I want to support an American business and buy American products.

  6. The “100 new models in the next 10 years” mantra got flushed faster than the partly digested remnants of a dodgey kebab on a Sunday morning.
    The relief felt by the HD parts department would have been similarly intense.

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