Harley-Davidson has announced its first-quarter sales report for 2015, which shows that worldwide retail sales of new motorcycles were down 1.3 percent compared to Q1 in 2014.
Harley says worldwide dealers sold 56,661 new Harley-Davidsons in Q1 compared to 57,415 motorcycles in the year-ago quarter.
In the US, Harley says its dealers sold 35,488 new motorcycles, down 0.7 percent compared to sales of 35,730 motorcycles in the year-ago period. The company believes increased, aggressive competitive motorcycle discounting was among the factors adversely affecting first-quarter U.S. retail Harley-Davidson sales.
In international markets, dealers sold 21,173 new bikes during the quarter compared to 21,685 motorcycles in the year-ago period, with unit sales down 1.1 percent in the Asia Pacific region; 5.6 percent in the EMEA region; up 0.3 percent in the Latin America region; and 5.7 percent in Canada.
“Given the first-quarter retail results, and ongoing, increased levels of aggressive competitive discounting in the U.S. which we expect will continue, we are taking the precautionary step of lowering our estimated growth rate for full-year motorcycle shipments in order to manage supply in line with demand and protect the premium nature of our brand,” said Keith Wandell, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Harley-Davidson.
Harley now expects shipments to grow two to four percent instead of its initial forecast of four to six percent.
“Despite the current headwinds, we believe Harley-Davidson’s brand fundamentals remain strong. Our brand is among the most iconic in the world and our motorcycles continue to generate great interest. Dealer sales of the newest Project Rushmore motorcycles – including the Road Glide and Low models – were robust in the first quarter, as were sales of the Harley-Davidson Street 750 and 500 motorcycles in international markets,” Wandell says.
“Sales in many of our emerging markets were up significantly in the quarter, including India, China and Mexico. And we continue to grow our network of nearly 1,500 independent dealerships in more than 90 countries globally. We also recently received the annual data on our U.S. demographic market share, which we believe demonstrates the strength of the brand long-term.”
Harley reported that it was the number-one seller of new road-going motorcycles to U.S. young adults ages 18-34, women, African-Americans, Hispanics and Caucasian men ages 35-plus for the seventh straight year.
In the 601cc-plus U.S. on-road market, Harley-Davidson sold more than three times as many new motorcycles to young adults ages 18-34, more than seven times as many to women, more than five times as many to Hispanics, more than five times as many to African Americans and more than nine times as many to Caucasian men ages 35-plus as the nearest competitor (data is based on Harley-Davidson’s analysis of Polk U.S. new motorcycle registration data from IHS Automotive for CY2008-2014).
“While the first quarter had its share of headwinds, our business is strong and we remain clearly focused on executing Harley-Davidson’s strategy to be customer-led in everything we do, grow our reach among new customers in the U.S., grow internationally and continuously improve every aspect of our operations,” Wandell says. “We continue to manage Harley-Davidson for long-term performance from a position of great strength.”