Harley Davidson Analysis Essay

This essay has a total of 1398 words and 11 pages.

Harley Davidson Analysis


As one Harley puts it, "It's one thing to have people buy your products. It's another for
them to tattoo your name on their bodies."

Harley-Davidson is the only major US maker of motorcycles and the nation's #1 seller of
heavyweight motorcycles. Harley-Davidson offers 24 models of touring and custom cycles.
Harley has held the largest share of the U.S. heavyweight motorcycle market since 1986.

Besides its bikes, Harley-Davidson sells a licensed line of clothing and accessories with
the company name. Also, gaining attention are the Harley-Davidson Cafes, located in
various cities including New York City and Las Vegas. These successful restaurants provide
Harley enthusiasts with great food, souvenir merchandise and a chance to see rare biker
memorabilia. This makes Harley one of the most recognizable symbols in America today.

Many of Harley-Davidson owners/riders are members of the Harley Owners Group better known
as H.O.G., with more than 500,000 members nationwide. Demand for Harley-Davidson
motorcycles continues to rise. Other motorcycle manufacturers have tried to compete with
Harley-Davidson in the heavyweight V-Twin "cruiser" segment; none have been able to match
Harley-Davidson in terms of customer loyalty and sales. There is a waiting list to get new
bikes. The dedication to its existing customers has created a loyalty that is enviable by
many other companies.


William S. Harley and William, Walter and Arthur Davidson began the Harley Davidson
Motorcycle Company in a shed in the Davidson backyard in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1903.
That year, they built three motorcycles.

In 1909 the company introduced the V-Twin engine, which is still in use to this day, a
more powerful engine and topping a previously unheard of speed of 60 miles an hour. As a
demand for the bikes grew, other companies were formed. By 1911, there were 150 companies
in the US that built motorcycles. Police departments and the military made heavy use of
the bikes. During World War I, HD Bikes were called into service and by the end of the
war; the US Military used over 20,000 of them.

Major achievements in design ensued, and a Harley Davidson Bike was the first motor
vehicle to win a race with an average speed of over 100 miles per hour.

In 1926 the teardrop style gas tank that is still used today was introduced.
The Great Depression devastated the motorcycle industry. Only Harley Davidson and Indian
motorcycles survived the 1930’s largely due to use by police departments.

Again, World War called over 90,000 motorcycles into action in the 1940’s. After the war,
the company expanded. The original founders died and new management took over.

Indian Motorcycles closed in 1953 and left Harley Davidson the sole US manufacturer of
American made motorcycles. The 50’s also saw the rise of the American “motorcycle
culture”, with black leather jackets making a statement and signifying a lifestyle.

In 1965 the company made its first public offering on the stock market, and in 1969 merged
with AMF. At the time the company was producing 14000 cycles per year. The merger
bolstered Harley’s growth with financial strength of AMF. The company then moved its
assembly operation to York, PA, leaving only the engine production and World headquarters
in Wisconsin. Also housed in York is the Harley-Davidson Antique Motorcycle Museum. It
houses a collection of more than 40 military and police bikes depicting the evolution of
the motorcycle and Harley history from 1903 to the present day.

The 70’s saw a decline in the market. A flood of imports from Japan and quality problems
created major problems for the company.

In the 80’s, 13 members of HD management purchased the company from AMF and brought a
return to quality and implemented new management and manufacturing techniques. It
accomplished this turnaround by being one of the first US companies to use Just in time
inventory policies, statistical processes and employee involvement programs.

In 1982, the company convinced the International Trade Commission (ITC) that the glut of
imported Japanese bikes were a threat of injury. Additional Tariffs were imposed on the
imports for five years. Giving the company a chance to revitalize its place in the market.
It did this in just three years by retooling and streamlining its operations.

In 1995 the company expanded its international operations in Windsor, England to manage
the European market. Europe is the largest heavyweight motorcycle market in the world,
fully 18 percent larger than the market in the United States.

H-D shipped 132,285 motorcycles in 1997 and shipped 147,000 in 1998. The long-term goal:
200,000 motorcycles annually by 2003.

As the company enters the 21st century, it continues to improve operations, by its
expansion into Europe, Japan, Australia China and Latin America.

We fulfill dreams through the experience of motorcycling, by providing to motorcyclists
and to the general public an expanding line of motorcycles and branded products and
services in selected market segments.

Some Demographics:

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