Harley-Davidson's outlook is brighter for now, thanks to Asia sales, report says

HD's financial troubles and lack of success in attracting younger riders has proven to be a steep hill to climb here in the US, but its fortunes might be improving.

Kyle Hyatt Former news and features editor
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).
Kyle Hyatt
2 min read
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Could Harley's electric Livewire be the shot in the arm that the company needs? Or will that come from its sale of small motorcycles in Asia?

Electrify America

Harley-Davidson has had some well-publicized troubles in its home market over the past few years, thanks to a change in ridership and the advancing age of many of its traditional customers. To combat that and help shore up profits, the oldest continually operating American motorcycle company is looking overseas, and we'll be damned if it isn't working, with sales up by 77% in Southeast Asia this quarter, Reuters reports.

Harley's financial troubles are nothing new, but its focus on other, non-US markets is. The company has pushed to gain more market share in China and the rest of Asia -- places where motorcycles are much more of a part of everyday life. The company's CEO Matt Levatich has stated in the past the company plans to eventually derive half of Harley's revenue from outside the US.

The increase in Asian market sales, plus an optimistic outlook for sales in the second half of 2019 were enough to send Harley's stock prices up by a not-inconsiderable 5.3%, according to Reuters. Of course, we're guessing that the increased sales that Harley is looking forward to are expected to come from the Livewire, its exciting new electric bike.

The Livewire situation is one that could honestly go either way for HD. The motorcycle is expensive, unlike any of its other bikes in terms of riding dynamics and performance, and of course it's electric -- though we did really like it when we had it out on the roads of Oregon. If its core demographic fails to embrace the model once the tech-savvy early adopters get their preorders, Harley's outlook could become less sunny in a hurry.

That scenario also plays out similarly if Harley is unable to attract younger riders to the brand in the near future as many of its current customers are approaching the age where they won't be able to ride, and Harley's bread-and-butter motorcycles -- the expensive, chrome-laden baggers -- aren't going to be attainable or relatable for younger riders. 

2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire shows us the way forward

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Watch this: Join us for our first ride on the first electric Harley, the LiveWire