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Friday 24 April 2020


Harley-Davidson Updates

Reported as one of several current Harley-Davidson rumors in the May edition of AMD Magazine (available to read online now at, see page 64), it would appear that Harley is indeed slated to announce cancellation of its August 2020 international Dealer Meeting at Nashville, Tennessee.

Instead, the company is working on plans for a January or February 2021 roll-out for its MY21 announcements - most likely as a series of three regional dealer meetings, one each for the Americas, Europe and the other EMEA managed territories, and Asia and related markets.

Harley's next single venue worldwide dealer convention is slated for January or February 2022. Once it is able to get back into production and dealer shipments (still thought to be the second half of May at the soonest), it is expected that MY20 production will need to be extended before any model launches can be contemplated, probably to as late as October or even November 2020.

This raises two further questions - whether or not Harley will participate at the usual industry expo events at which it would normally have booths, such as INTERMOT and EICMA (assuming they go ahead that is), and whether or not the new Pan America ADV Tourer and Bronx Streetfighter will be included in the first tranche of MY21 announcements. AMD had already heard that production for them had already slipped to November 2020 at the earliest, even before the present crisis-driven production shutdown became an issue.

•    Whenever the MY 2021 announcement does come, it is believed that, in what is thought to be a largely paint job and accessory make-over announcement (Pan America and Bronx aside), Harley is to wave the white flag of surrender and abandon the hydraulic clutch on Touring models from 2021 on. The hydraulic clutch was introduced on all MY2014 Project 'Rushmore' Touring models (except Road King), but it has been plagued by recalls and other tech issues ever since.

•    In other news, the on/off battle between Harley and Impala Asset Management, to see independent directors appointed to the sclerotic Harley board (as described by Motley Fool), looks set to rumble on until after Harley's 'virtual/video' annual meeting on May 21.

Activist investor Bob Bishop's Impala Asset Management (owner of more than 1% of H-D stock) had originally petitioned for the appointment of two independently nominated directors at the annual meeting. But in return for a bunch of cash and some modest concessions, it has accepted a compromise. Instead, Impala, and the other investors whose backing it claims to have, will propose one appointee after, rather than as an item of business at, Harley's annual meeting.

Stockholder disquiet revolves around the recent management of the company and the direction it has been taking. Bishop's candidates had been a former cable TV executive (and professional race car driver) and a former GM and NASCAR executive. Motley Fool explains that having withdrawn these nominees, the deal will see Impala and its associates and Harley submit two names each (four candidates in total) for consideration as independent directors to fill one slot on the board. The position may either be a new one or come from one of the existing directors standing down. Either way, the vacancy could end up being filled by one of Harley's own picks.

•    As at March 1st, and as listed in Harley's Annual Meeting Shareholder and Proxy Statement, the largest stockholders in Harley-Davidson, and those owning more than 5% of the common stock, are … Vanguard Group (11.55%); BlackRock Inc (9.45%); Bank of New York Mellon (9.27%); Invesco (6.98%), and Dodge & Cox (6.55%).

•    Finally, Harley is moving Larry Hund from his role as President and COO of Harley's Financial Services business to Chief Commercial Officer at the Motor Co., focussed on Motorcycle, P&A, General Merchandise sales, and on the Milwaukee Museum.

A slew of motorcycle sales appointments are also being made, reporting in to Larry Hund and in an effort to streamline Harley's existing and notoriously inefficient global region motorcycle sales management structure.

Dave Cotteleer becomes the VP and Managing Director for North America; Nigel Keough for Asia Pacific and Latin America; and Andy Benka for EMEA. Jonathan Root, Vice President of Insurance and Protection Products, HDFS, has been promoted to Senior Vice President, HDFS, and will succeed Larry as the leader of HDFS.