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Big changes ahead as Harley-Davidson reboots production

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Harley-Davidson has re-started its US production lines, but it’s not business as usual.

Earlier this year, Harley-Davidson had shut down its US-based factories due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, many leaders in the US are looking to re-open the economy, and the Wall Street Journal is reporting Harley-Davidson is planning to resume production in its Wisconsin and Pennsylvania factories. However, the plants will be running reduced production. According to the report, an internal memo from a Harley-Davidson bigwig states 70 per cent of dealers won’t receive any more new motorcycles this year.

The Journal says the memo states “We are using this time to course correct and rewire the company in pursuit of making Harley-Davidson one of the most desirable brands in the world.” The plan is to reduce the number of new bikes on the market, to monkey with the supply/demand curve. As well, the company will only offer basic paint options for the rest of the year, and less factory customization options. The story also refers to an earnings call with the company’s new CEO/president, Jochen Zeitz; in the call, Zeitz said Harley-Davidson would delay its product launches planned for 2020 until sometime just before 2021’s peak buying season in the spring. Zeitz also supposedly told investors that the move towards smaller, more affordable models, which was started by just-ousted CEO/president Matt Levatich, was taking the company’s attention away from its premium money-making models.

That all adds up to a lot of changes. Frankly, it sounds like it’s just the beginning, and don’t be surprised to hear more big news from the MoCo in coming weeks as a result.

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