While we’re still poring over Harley-Davidson‘s annual report, making Excel spreadsheets, and winning at bullshit bingo, a couple interesting facts have struck us about the company and some of the trends it is experiencing. While it’s been mostly doom and gloom around Harley-Davidson in 2010, the Milwaukee-based company does appear to be solely in business because of the strong cost-cutting CEO Keith Wandell has been able to achieve during his tenure. Despite the moaning and groaning from the Bar & Shield loyal about Wandell’s non-motorcycle riding lifestyle, the CEO knows how to trim the fat, which is exactly what this HOG needed. Find five interesting facts for you to mull over this weekend after the jump.

  • Over a third (37.4%) of all new Harley-Davidson motorcycles sold, were sold outside of the United States.
  • If trends continue, Harley-Davidson could be selling more motorcycles abroad than domestically within two years. This is not because international sales are booming (international sales were only up 3% in 2010 compared to sales in 2006), but instead because domestic sales are crashing (sales in the United States were down 52% over the same time period).
  • Harley-Davidson sold 49% fewer motorcycles in 2010 than it did in 2006. By model family those sales decreases are as follows: 36% (Sportster), 46% (Custom), & 34%.
  • 2010 is the first year since 2006 that Harley-Davidson’s sales figures dropped by a single digit factor (8.9%). Sales have decreased by 11.6% (2007), 14.6% (2008), 30% (2009) over the past four years.
  • 66% of Harley-Davidson purchasers in 2010 did not have a college degree
  • Harley-Davidson Financial Services financed 47.9% of all new Harley-Davidson purchases in the United States for 2010.

Source: Harley-Davidson & Google Finance

  • jack

    The really surprising figure is that 34% of the people that purchased Harleys were college graduates. The 52% drop in domestic sales shows that the “image” is finally wearing off.

  • Mark

    The 52% drop in domestic sales has little to do with HD’s image and everything to do with the complete collapse of consumer purchasing power in this country.
    How many typical motorcycle buyers are in a position to spend thousands on a new bike when they’re not even sure they’ll still have a job in 6 months, their credit cards are still maxed out, their health insurance is gobbling up 20% of their income, and they now own more money on their house than it’s worth?

  • Mark,

    Harley-Davidson lost 24.5% of its sales in 2007 & 2008, at the height of the economy. Still think it’s consumer purchasing power at play? Yeah Harley-Davidson saw its biggest drop in sales during the recession, but this was a trend that started well before the economic mess of late.

  • jack

    BMW and Triumph actually had an increase in sales last year.

  • Richard Gozinya


    Them, as well as Ducati had great years. Don’t know about Aprilia, MV Agusta and Moto Guzzi, would be interesting to see if all the European brands have seen gains, or just those three.

    As for Harley, screw ’em. They don’t bother improving their products, they shouldn’t expect people to keep buying them.

  • Downer

    I think it is interesting how few have college degrees considering the average price of a Harley. What are the college graduates buying? With the days of easy credit over what is going to happen to their customer base. People are continually being critical of HD for the aging customer base I would think they are more worried about the income of their potential customer. With more and more decent paying jobs facing salary and benefit cuts and the lack of job security buying a Harley is going to be a dream.

  • Scooter

    Harley made a huge mistake closing Buell. Buell was the only bike made by HD that was available to the younger buyer. The younger buyer will not buy a Harley and dress up like a pirate. Harley’s sales will continue to drop while companies like Triumph and BMW that improve there line up and come out with new models with see increased sales. The new BMW K1600 touring bike is light years ahead of any HD touring bike. Even the long on the tooth Honda Gold Wing is far superior to any Harley. How can HD expect to continue in business selling there 1960’s motorcycles at 2011 prices.

  • HD made the right call dumping Buell. The brand sold 9,500 bikes in 2009 (the last full year before it closed). I’d bet good money that if you did the activity based cost accounting on that, Harley lost money on every Buell sold, which is more than likely the reason why it was ultimately shutdown. That’s just smart business.

    Now how Harley-Davidson managed Buell, and the constraints it put on the company…that’s some poor decision making. You can’t make a sportbike brand act like a cruiser brand. Two different markets, two different buyer, operated with the same game plan: that’s a recipe for failure.

  • Shaitan

    One interesting fact: there are SIX facts listed, not five.

  • patron

    Only 5 are interesting

  • Exactly.

  • Tom

    Jensen, you’re dead wrong about Buell. Other than the Blast, every report I ever read said that Buell was in the black. Even if not, the smart business sense was to SELL Buell to Buell and make some money off the deal – you know, like HD completely failed to do with MV Agusta.

  • I’ll reiterate my sentence, “I’d bet good money that if you did the activity based cost accounting on that, Harley lost money on every Buell sold.” What costs did those “reports” you read take into account? How did it account for them?

    For same reason I don’t think Buell made money when factoring activity based costs, is the same reason Buell couldn’t be spun out from Harley-Davidson. The business side of Buell was too extensively piggybacked off Harley-Davidson for it to be removed and still be freestanding.

    What exactly would Harley have sold there? How much would it really have been worth? At the end of the day the write-off Harley could take on closing Buell was a better deal than what they would have gotten from a buyer, likely by an order of magnitude.

    I love the Buell conspiracy theorists that think closing the brand was to slight Erik. Harley-Davidson did what it did because it was the best business decision to make. End of story.

  • Sheldon

    Hey Jensen, how about a more thorough explanation here? What does “activity based costs” mean? What does “business side of Buell was too extensively piggybacked off Harley- Davidson” mean? I, and I suspect others, don’t fully understand why Buell could not have been sold. If Harely has no more plans for the brand, why not license it back to Erik so he can continue building bikes with his name on it? Harley’s decision to delete the brand without providing much of an explanation why other options weren’t pursued is a main reason why Buell fans are so mad at HD.

    If anyone else can shed some light on this, please enlighten us.

  • F1

    Buell (or at least a younger image brand) was, and still is important to Harley’s future. They didn’t sell many bikes because most of the R&D money wasn’t recouped during the the first years. That was mostly due to the earned perception (or fact) they were brand new “old” bikes. They weren’t fast, or light, they didn’t handle well, and they were poorly made. So after the initial “honeymoon”, people bought better bikes elsewhere. Selling cruisers and sport-bikes with the technology, performance and efficiency from the 70s, aside from the muffler location and the rim mounted brakes, (and selling them) today is the biggest reason for lack of growth. Aside from a traditionalist why would you buy either one. Every other sport-bike made was better in every way than a Buell,, in every way!.. And the Japs figured out how to make a cruiser that didn’t weight north of 700lbs and it has more than 60 horsepower. Again, you can’t sell a bike from the 70’s in 2011. The Buell should have been created from ground zero to compete directly with the best liter bikes, not 600’s (stupid AMA/DMG),, Ducati made a world-beating twin with half the budget,, and they have been doing it for over 20 years.
    In the end Harley will go chapter 7 or 11,, then a group of finance kings will buy it, and if they don’t do something different,, it will go the way of Indian. Different means compliment your updated (lighter, easier to ride, with pick-up truck beating acceleration) cruiser line with BMW/Ducati like sport tourers and sport bikes.,,, yep, re-invent the brand…
    BTW – I was set on buying a “Lightning” until it got pissed-on in most measurable categories in a magazine shootout.

  • Harley is selling a sports bike for the past few years besides Buell. Since 2009 in the states. XR1200. Wish they would market the bike better, cause it’s a great bike and probably overal, the safest and most advance bike Harley sales.

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