MILWAUKEE based investment analysts RW Baird surveyed authorized Harley-Davidson dealers after the Nashville dealer meeting to gauge reaction to upcoming season business prospects and the 2015 new model year range in particular.
The survey found that reaction to the 2015’s was mostly positive, with some 70 percent of dealers rating MY2015 positively - that compares to the 95 percent reaction to the debut of the Project Rushmore bikes a year ago. It also shows that the 2013 and other initiatives so far this year are gifts that keep on giving for Harley, because just 24 months ago the MY2012 announcement was only receiving a 22 percent positive rating.
Dealers report that retail demand improved 3-5 percent in July and August versus the year before.
However, it is proving tricky for Harley to strike the right inventory/price balance. Harley cut its shipment forecast in July "to protect the scarcity value of the brand" according to Baird, who, contrary to NADA, are reporting used bike values as gaining in price - up 0.5 percent in July/August.
Baird report that more dealers were choosing to sell below MSRP though, as they seek to clear end-of-season inventory, suggesting that following most dealers reporting that inventory was too thin and too slow in arriving earlier this year, many (42 percent) were seeing it as too high going into MY2015 deliveries.