Harley-Davidson Hardwires Five-Year Growth Plan

Jason R. Sakurai
by Jason R. Sakurai

The bikes that made Milwaukee famous, Harley-Davidson, have rolled out Hardwire, their ambitious five-year plan to restore profitability and desirability to The Motor Company.

Not to set the bar too high, Harley-Davidson is hoping to increase profits and low double-digit earnings per share (EPS) by 2025. How do they plan to do this, given the graying of their audience, much like that for ’32 roadsters and ’55 Chevrolets?

Going at it a different way, according to Harley’s marketers, means using enhanced digital touchpoints to reach customers, including non-riders, through multiple channels. Well, they’re not straying too far from what they’ve done practically forever, investing in touring, large cruiser bike, and trike segments, but now they’re expanding into adventure touring and cruisers to augment their prior positioning.

So far, it’s not looking too promising, but the launch of Harley-Davidson Certified, a pre-owned Harley program much like that of almost every carmaker, is a good move. Many of their dealers were already selling used Harleys for nearly the price of a new bike, and in the case of some of the more desirable models, for more than the going price in either Kelly Blue Book or NADAguides. This might provide buyers of used Harleys with an extended warranty and a little peace of mind, beyond the dealer’s sleight of hand.

Global dominance is a lofty goal, and having been there before, Harley-Davidson is keen to make a return as a lifestyle brand and icon. Not only will the company push bikes worldwide, but they’re also going to use bike parts, accessories, and soft goods to springboard their renaissance. Redefining their footprint, Harley will tread in 10 markets deemed most important to their success, although they didn’t define what those markets were during the press conference. E-motorcycles were deemed important to Harley’s future, and their commitment was restated, along with declaring that their LiveWire e-motorbike is the leader among plug-ins worldwide, likely a point of contention in India or China.

Spreading out the wealth, or perhaps the risk, Harley-Davidson is offering equity grants to its 4,500 employees, giving each of them an opportunity to own a bit of the bar and shield. In calling it a new approach to inclusive stakeholder management, this action was taken to recognize workers who create and deliver their signature products.

Jochen Zeitz, Harley’s chairman, president, and CEO, said, “Harley-Davidson is the most desirable motorcycle brand in the world, backed by leading positions in the most profitable segments and a reinvigorated culture of performance, efficiency, focus and speed.” In the hot seat only since May 7th, Zeitz was chairman and CEO of Puma, the German athletic shoe company from 1993 to 2011, remaining chairman of Puma after being appointed CEO of the sport and lifestyle division of Kering, the luxury goods firm. Without a doubt, Zeitz has the Powersports industry background needed to regain Harley-Davidson’s footing, not only as a motorcycle manufacturer but as a much larger cultural icon.

[Images: Harley-Davidson]

Jason R. Sakurai
Jason R. Sakurai

With a father who owned a dealership, I literally grew up in the business. After college, I worked for GM, Nissan and Mazda, writing articles for automotive enthusiast magazines as a side gig. I discovered you could make a living selling ad space at Four Wheeler magazine, before I moved on to selling TV for the National Hot Rod Association. After that, I started Roadhouse, a marketing, advertising and PR firm dedicated to the automotive, outdoor/apparel, and entertainment industries. Through the years, I continued writing, shooting, and editing. It keep things interesting.

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  • Luke42 Luke42 on Feb 09, 2021

    Oh, no, I missed the Super Bowl again! /s I'll get over it. I'm glad the sportsball fans can have their fun! They can and should have their fun without me, though. That way we can all be happy.

  • Markf Markf on Feb 19, 2021

    Late to the party... When has any 5 year plan worked any where, ever? I am a Gen Xer (52) who has been riding bikes since I was 16. Never once did I consider buying a Harley. I think Gen X may be the last generation for a while to have some disposable income for expensive motorcycles and none of my friends or fellow Gen Xers (except women riders, they love Harleys) ride a Harley. I don't see how Harley turns into anything but a low volume, boutique manufacturer. There will be market for 30K anachronistic, loud, heavy and slow bikes, it will just be much smaller. The Livewire was going to save them, total flop. Then bicycles. Aside from press releases has anyone actual seen a Harley bicycle? Now we have "Hardwire" LOL with this brilliant plan "But Zeitz, who turned around nearly-defunct sports apparel brand Puma in the 1990s believes that better days - and more buyers - lay ahead as new riders “age into the market.” https://www.forbes.com/sites/billroberson/2020/07/29/ceos-rewire-plan-turns-to-hardwire-as-harley-davidson-reports-92m-loss/?sh=6f1154a34fe5 Age into the market. They have given up and their is plan is to hope that once you become a Grey Beard some instinct will kick in and make you want a Harley. Good grief...

  • Lynchenstein @EBFlex - All ICEs are zero-emission until you start them up. Except my mom's old 95 Accord, that used to emit oil onto the ground quite a lot.
  • Charles The UAW makes me the opposite of patriotic
  • El scotto Wranglers are like good work boots, you can't make them any better. Rugged four wheel drive vehicles which ironically make great urban vehicles. Wagoneers were like handbags desired by affluent women. They've gone out of vogue. I can a Belgian company selling Jeep and Ram Trucks to a Chinese company.
  • El scotto So now would be a good time to buy an EV as a commuter car?
  • ToolGuy $1 billion / 333.3 million = $3 per U.S. person ¶ And what do I get for my 3 bucks -- cleaner air and lower fuel prices? I might be ok with this 🙂🙂