A pandemic hit 2020 has not been kind to American motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson (H-D), with the Milwaukee firm posting an operating loss of USD 186 million (RM791.86 million) in the motorcycle sales segment. Despite a new chief executive officer, Jochen Zeitz, at the helm and a revised marketing plan called “Hardwire”, market sentiment seems to be against H-D, with earnings-per-share dropping by USD 0.63 (RM2.55).

Revenue for H-D’s motorcycle sales was USD 3.26 billion (RM13.17 billion), a drop of 29% compared to 2019’s sales number of USD 4.21 billion (RM17.01 billion). More telling is the Q4 motorcycle sales result, with the US market recording a massive 39% shortfall of USD 531 million (RM2.15 billion) against USD 874.1 million (RM3.53 billion) for the same period in 2019.

Worldwide sales saw a similar drop in number, with the world market dropping 17% cumulatively. This figure is broken down to the US market, which fell 18%, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) dropping 16%, Asia Pacific by 8% and Latin America recording the biggest drop with 39%.

However, H-D stills commands the lion’s share of the US domestic motorcycle market with 42.1%, despite a 7% drop while its European market position only saw a 1% drop to 7.7%. In terms of total number of motorcycles sold, H-D shipped 145,246 unit out the door in 2020, compared to 2019’s number of 191,724 units.

Plans by H-D to address the drop in both profit and earnings in 2020 was its Rewire plan, with which it claims to have saved some USD 115 million (RM464.6 million). Moving forward, H-D intends to implement what it calls Hardwire, a marketing plan that reverses moves by previous CEO Matthew Levatich who had an ambitious plan of 120 “new” motorcycles over five years, including the Livewire electric motorcycle, the Pan America adventure tourer and Bronx street fighter.

Of these, the Bronx has been axed, with the Livewire released last year and the Pan America scheduled for its worldwide launch on February 22. Zietz intends to focus on what he says are the world’s most desirable motorcycle segments – touring, large cruiser and trike.