Harley-Davidson’s Has a Big Problem and It’s Not Trump. It’s That Its Motorcycles Don’t Fall Apart Fast Enough
In a world of planned obsolescence gone mad, one company is still making reliable products–and it’s a huge problem.
Harley-Davidson (HOG) motorcycles don’t wear out quickly, in function or in style, and it means the company is competing against its own used motorcycles for sales. In the U.S. there are now three used Harleys sold for each new one—a decade age, the ratio was reversed, the Wall Street Journal reports—and it’s bringing down the company’s revenues.
But supply isn’t the only thing that’s brought Harley-Davidson sales down for the last three years running. Demand for the motorcycles has also shifted as the baby boomers who propped up the company in the 1980s age out of motorcycle-riding and a younger generation with less cash and different lifestyles replaces them. Gone are the days of the rider and the open road; buyers now consider their growing families and freeway traffic when thinking about a new bike.
And it’s not just customers causing problems for the legacy American brand’s sales. The company was caught in political crossfire over the summer when it announced it would move some production overseas in order to avoid retaliatory tariffs levied by Europe in response to the ones imposed by President Trump. Trump later said he would support a boycott of the company if it followed through with these plans. (Trump’s boycott call hasn’t stopped the Secret Service from moving to buy a new Hog, however.)