Harley-Davidson, the Milwaukee-based company, has been trying various new tactics to get its sales figures to climb. Unfortunately, nothing seems to be working in favour of the company. Its bike sales in the US in 2019 were the lowest in at least 16 years. And amidst all this fiasco, Harley-Davidson President and CEO Matt Levatich have stepped down from his duties.
Levatich has been a part of the American motorcycle manufacturer for the last 26 years during which he held various important positions like the general manager of the parts and accessories division and custom vehicle operations, all in the US and Europe. He was appointed as the brand’s president and CEO in May 2015 and since then Harley-Davidson’s shares have dropped by 46%.
“I am confident that the progress we have made on the More Roads plan will position Harley-Davidson for long-term success,” Levatich said in a statement.
The board of directors has appointed board member Jochen Zeitz as acting president and CEO. He was also named chairman of the board and will remain chairman once a new CEO is appointed. Current chairman, Michael Cave, is now presiding director.
“The board and Matt mutually agreed that now is the time for new leadership at Harley-Davidson,” Zeitz said in a news release. “Matt was instrumental in defining the More Roads to Harley-Davidson accelerated plan for growth, and we will look to new leadership to recharge our business.”
Analysts have grown increasingly concerned over the US sales slump during one of the strongest economies in decades. Harley and other heavyweight motorcycle manufacturers have been caught between two customer demographic trends: Young people aren’t widely embracing the big cruiser and touring bikes and longtime riders ageing out of the sport.
Harley has pushed back with smaller and more versatile motorcycles aimed at attracting new customers, with several models coming out this year. It also ventured into electric motorcycles and launched the LiveWire, its first electric motorcycle, which is indeed a great machine but unfortunately, wasn’t successful to bring in numbers the management was hoping for. The world’s largest manufacturer of heavyweight motorcycles also placed an increased emphasis on international sales.
With new leadership on board, it would be interesting to see Harley-Davidson’s next steps and how it moves forward and what new it brings in the market.