Harley-Davidson Reports Declining Global Sales

On October 26, 2023, Harley-Davidson unveiled its financial performance for the third quarter of 2023. Although CEO Jochen Zeitz highlighted the positive news of a 25 percent surge in CVO (Custom Vehicle Operations) retail sales, a deeper examination of the revenue and motorcycle sales figures presents a more nuanced picture.

If you did not know, Harley-Davidson employs a segmented reporting structure, which comprises three key parts: Harley-Davidson Motor Company (encompassing all motorcycles except LiveWire), Harley-Davidson Financial Services, and LiveWire. This structure has been in place since LiveWire was spun off into a separate entity in 2022. Collectively, these segments constitute Harley-Davidson Incorporated, the entity responsible for Consolidated Financial Results. When compared to the third quarter of 2022, the Motor Company reported a 24 percent decline in profits. Notably, this announcement led to an 11 percent drop in the company’s stock shares, as reported by Reuters.

Harley-Davidson revealed a decline in retail motorcycle sales for all its models, excluding LiveWire, across various global regions during the third quarter of 2023. Overall, worldwide sales fell by 16 percent year-on-year. A regional breakdown of sales reveals the following:

  1. North America: Sales for Q3 2023 experienced a 15 percent decrease compared to the same period in 2022.
  2. Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA): Sales in this combined region dropped by 13 percent.
  3. Asia Pacific: Sales saw a significant decline of 24 percent.
  4. Latin America: Sales in Latin America also declined by 11 percent in Q3 of 2023.

Regarding LiveWire, it is important to note that Harley-Davidson employs a unique reporting approach for LiveWire numbers. While the statistics for the internal combustion engine (ICE) Harley-Davidson Motor Company pertain directly to motorcycle sales in each region and globally, LiveWire figures use a different terminology – “Electric Motorcycle Shipments” rather than “sales”.

In Q3 of 2023, the company reported the shipment of a total of 50 LiveWire electric motorcycles. This represents a substantial 76 percent decrease in comparison to the LiveWire shipments in Q3 2022, which amounted to 206 units a year prior. It’s important to clarify that there is no typo in these figures; only 50 LiveWire motorcycles were shipped during that quarter.

In fairness, it is worth acknowledging that LiveWire is still in its early stages, and innovative technologies and ventures often face initial challenges. Additionally, Harley-Davidson has only recently introduced its electric motorcycles to the European market. While riders in Europe and Asia have been quicker to embrace electric motorbikes in general, the same cannot be said for the U.S. market. As LiveWire establishes its presence in Europe and explores markets beyond the United States, particularly with offerings like the S2 Del Mar, it may find a more receptive audience and pave the way for future growth.

Co-founder of Bikes Republic and a motoring journalist by night. He is a self described enthusiasts with a passion for speed but instead rides a Harley and a J300. A man of contradictions, he is just as passionate about time off in the quiets as he is about trail braking into turn one at Sepang Circuit on two or four wheels.

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