Harley-Davidson Sales Cratered Another 17% in 2020

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Hidden by talk of the Harley-Davidson “Hardwire” business plan, which seems like more business speak than actual business substance, we also have the American brand’s Q4 results from last year, as well as the yearly sales results from 2020.

If you need a two-word summary of those sales results, we will provide you with a “not good” response.

Harley-Davidson finished the year down 17.4% compared to the sales numbers of 2019, with Q4 2020 showing a 14% drop over the same time period last year.

Those numbers are almost mirrored exactly by the US market results, which were down 14.5% for Q4 2020 and down 17.7% for the year.

That should be expected to some extent, since the United States accounts for 57% of Harley-Davidson’s bike sales, so where the US market goes, so too does Harley-Davidson.

The rest of the regions that Harley-Davidson reports on bracket the results shown in the USA, with Asian Pacific significantly outperforming the USA; Europe about on par with the USA; and Latin America almost double the sales loss as our domestic market.

The top level analysis of that result can best be explained by each country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Asia’s swift and harsh response has paid off in spades in the long-run for the region.

Conversely, the sparse medical and economic levers of Latin America have seen a greater impact by COVID-19 on the economies of that region. 

Meanwhile, much has already been written about the coronavirus efforts in North America and Europe, so we don’t need to wade into that hornet’s nest…

At the end of the day though, Harley-Davidson’s sales drop can’t be completely explained away by the global health pandemic – the Bar & Shield brand was losing sales at a precipitous rate before we knew what a coronavirus was, and it will likely continue losing sales once the world returns back to its new normal.

There is something fundamentally flawed by the Harley-Davidson business plan and its brand image

Will the new Zeitz regime, with its much touted “Hardwire” plan, be able to turnaround the ship? That is the $5.16 billion question.

  4th Quarter Full-Year
2020 2019 Change 2020 2019 Change
USA 17,274 20,204 -14.5% 103,650 125,960 -17.7%
EMEA 7,028 7,187 -2.2% 36,906 44,086 -16.3%
Asia Pacific 6,949 7,691 -9.6% 27,220 29,513 -7.8%
Latin America 1,235 2,513 -50.9% 5,995 9,768 -38.6%
Canada 809 1,159 -30.2% 6,477 8,946 -27.6%
International Total 16,021 18,550 -13.6% 76,598 92,313 -17.0%
Worldwide Total 33,295 38,754 -14.1% 180,248 218,273 -17.4%

Source: Harley-Davidson