Harley-Davidson dealers ‘unexcited’ for new models as sales slump, analyst says

Dealerships are “relatively unexcited” for Harley-Davidson’s 2020 model year lineup as U.S. sales declined in July and August, according to a report Wedbush Securities provided to Powersports Finance.

Retail unit sales were down high-single digits in July and down mid-single digits in August year over year, according to conversations Wedbush had with Harley-Davidson dealers. The decline is “generally in line” with the 8% sales drop Harley reported in its second-quarter earnings call, James Hardiman, managing director and leisure analyst at Wedbush, said in the report.

Harley unveiled its 2020 model year lineup last month, which included three new bikes and updates to technology services like H-D Connect. Additionally, pricing was flat on a weighted average basis, which was a “step in the right direction, as average prices were up significantly during each of the past two years,” Hardiman added.

However, dealers were unconvinced that the new models would make waves with consumers because they deemed the updates as “relatively small,” according to the report.

“While some of the price cuts were appreciated, a handful of dealers indicated this might make it harder in the short-term to unload some leftover model year 2019s,” Hardiman said. “Some of our contacts were also upset that Harley has seemingly pared back its lineup for this year, noting that more variety is better when it comes to winning over customers.”

For More Read: Harley-Davidson dealers await incentives to push older inventory

Additionally, shipments of the high-profile Livewire are arriving later than expected. Dealers expect to receive their first shipment by mid-to-late September, as opposed to the original late-August shipment date, according to the report. However, dealers carrying the Livewire still expect the bike to “sell well,” Hardiman noted.

While dealers remained skeptical on 2020 models, there was “highly positive” feedback on Harley’s 2021 lineup, which includes a new 975cc Streetfighter bike and the OEM’s first adventure touring bike, the Pan America, the report said. “Most dealers reported that there is already strong customer interest in the Pan America and Streetfighter, and many dealers felt confident the new round of bikes will help bring in new clientele,” Hardiman stated.

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