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Turfscape (43.76)

Big and Little HOGs

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November 05, 2013 – Comments (1) | RELATED TICKERS: HOG , PII

Harley-Davidson yesterday announced an all-new motorcycle family in its lineup with two new models.

Motorcyclist Magazine article here

What the Milwaukee motor company is launching is a family of light, small displacement, liquid-cooled bikes designed very specifically for urban environments. The bikes won't be out until next year, but the specs look pretty solid. These aren't designed to outperform Ducati...they're clearly designed to put an authentic Harley-Davidson under the butts of new (almost certainly younger) customers across the globe. The MSRP is to be the lowest that Harley offers (initial reports are starting around $6500 US). The bikes are little but the news could be huge!

What's more impressive is that this announcement is coming fresh off the heels of the company's 2014 model launch which featured a complete overhaul of it's core, heavyweight touring bikes...launched under the moniker of "Project Rushmore". These are the big bikes - 800 pounds and $20K+ in price. That release focused on the top-end of the MSRP scale, adding modern features like touch-screen infotainment systems with integrated GPS and voice-activated commands, electronically-linked ABS systems and a type of "partial" liquid-cooling that they dubbed Twin Cooling (basically uses air-coolng with liquid cooling around only the cylinder heads). Good reviews came in and customer response to that launch has been pretty outstanding according to anecdotal evidence, the company's third-quarter earnings announcement, and my own stops into a hanndful of dealers (and having had a test ride...I will be getting one of these new touring bikes. Probably a Street Glide Special). This launch was aimed squarely at Harley's typical core customer - otherwise known as "middle-aged man".

Two major product launches within months of each other, targeting the opposite ends of the consumer spectrum. With the past focus on reforming their manufacturing operations to be much, much leaner and shortening the time to put new product into the market, these new product launches are really indicative of the success that Harley has had in turning their ship around. Well played H-D! Poised nicely for the future.

Now - Couple all of that with the re-launch of the Indian brand from Polaris. So very many people speculated that the new Indian models would cut into Harley sales. After all, Indian is a heritage brand, American made and Polaris really put a LOT of effort into getting the product right. What most people missed, though, was that Polaris was not aiming to take market share from Harley (not yet, anyway). What the re-launch of Indian provided was another American alternative for those who had already made up their mind that Harley was not for them. In other words...a bad time to be a Japanese heavyweight bike manufacturer!

With the renewed interest in the Indian brand and the massive amounts of press for Harley's two product launches, the pool of potential new riders is sure to grow. This bodes well for both HOG and PII (and I know that Polaris revealed that Indian's re-launch has not been a blistering success, but give it a little time).

Disclosure: Long HOG with PII on my watchlist.

1 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On November 05, 2013 at 1:24 PM, Turfscape (43.76) wrote:

For those interested in the new bikes, Cycle World has a good rundown here. Also includes a little info on Harley's plan to build these bikes in the US for the North American markets, and in India for Asian and European markets. A smart business move to keep the bikes affordable in the markets where they will probably have the most appeal, but risky given the company's strong association with its "American Identity".

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