Harley Sales Numbers Slump

Harley-Davidson on Tuesday revealed gloomy sales ahead after soft results last year, due to weakness in the American market.

The chief of the iconic motorcycle brand said he hopes to turn the company’s fortunes around by drawing in new, younger, fans, and introducing dozens of new models.

Net profit for 2016 fell eight percent to $692.1 million, as motorcycle sales dropped nearly two percent, faltering especially hard in the fourth quarter, when the count was 42,414, down 12% from late 2015.

Harley said deliveries would be flat to slightly lower in 2017.

Chief executive Matthew Levatich said the company is hoping to turn things around by attracting “young adults age 18 to 34, women, African-Americans and Hispanics to join our sport and brand in the U.S.”

Levatich said the company plans to introduce 50 new models in the next five years.

The quintessential American brand has been contending with an aging core-consumer population in the U.S. and tough competition from “cruiser” bikes made in Japan and Europe.

Chief financial officer John Olin said the industry has been hit “by weakness in oil-dependent areas and soft used-bike values compounded by economic uncertainty.”

In addition, he said, “U.S. dealers had too many 2016 motorcycles in retail inventory at the end of the fourth quarter, and we will continue to support their efforts to sell through these motorcycles.”

In theory, Trump’s tough approach to international trade negotiations could hold out hope of helping the troubled motorcycle brand.

The company endured a difficult run in the early 1980s due to rising competition from Japanese rivals, which sparked U.S. tariffs, something Trump has threatened to impose on products from Mexico.

However, the Harley-Davidson in 2014 began to manufacture some of its low-end models in India and Trump has criticized other big U.S. companies for offshoring production.

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