Total Motorcycle’s interview with Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Canada:
by Andrea Le Pard and Mike Le Pard.
Few could argue that people (even those who don’t ride motorcycles) are drawn to the Harley-Davidson style. Harley-Davidson has been around for more than 100 years and was perfecting the cruiser image before any other non-American company caught on to what a “cruiser should look like”. With 100 years of heritage and design behind them, we wanted to learn what Harley-Davidson had planned for buyers in the future.
We talked with two Harley-Davidson official company representatives at the Calgary Motorcycle Show on January 10th, 2003. Thomas Wild, General Manager and another Harley-Davidson General Manager for Canada (sorry, we lost the name). Here is what they had to say on Harley-Davidson’s future and their well known motorcycles.
Both Thomas and the other GM were very proud of where Harley-Davidson has been and how it has reached the top of its market. With changes this year to many of the 2004 Harley-Davidson models they were confident it would keep current owners happy and attract new buyers from “Japanese” cruisers to H-D cruisers. Some of the changes were quite major for Harley-Davidson such as rubber mounting the whole line of Sportster (883 and 1200) engines so they do not vibrate and shake as much. For those who don’t know, the Harley-Davidson Sportster can trace its roots back to the 1950’s. Since its introduction, the Sportster engine was hard mounted and was allowed to vibrate freely. The 883 and 1200 Sportster is one of the top selling models for Harley-Davidson and changes are kept to a minimum so as not to affect sales.
The new 2004 Harley-Davidson V-Rods were also at the show. Both the VRSCA (silver frame, silver engine) and VRSCB (black frame, black engine) were there and very popular with the crowds. They were so crowd-enticing that we found it hard to find a few seconds to even snap a photo of the motorcycle.
Another model Harley-Davidson is proud to bring to the market this year is the unique Screamin’ Eagle Deuce and Electra Glide. The Screamin’ Eagles are a full custom motorcycle package straight from the factory. What sets the Screamin’ Eagles apart from the other models is that it is already customized for the buyer. Both of the H-D representatives agreed that since they are fully customized it should attract more attention from other perspective buyers.
The Harley-Davidson GM’s were very hesitant to talk much about Harley-Davidson’s future plans, but we were persistent.
We found out that Harley-Davidson has a very unique approach to selling their motorcycles. Harley-Davidson doesn’t see any other motorcycle manufacturer as a threat. They know that they have the unique Harley-Davidson style and familiarity that keeps people buying their product, which can not be duplicated by any other manufacturer. Harley-Davidson tries to keep the unique technology found in a H-D model to that model and their secret is not to share it among other models.
We asked about the fabulous V-Rod water-cooled engine, if the technology might be migrated to another model. The GM’s assured us that unfortunately Harley-Davidson has no future plans to use the V-Rod engine in anything else. They also told us that Harley-Davidson is planning no new models or future non-cruiser models. When asked about the Harley-Davidson lack of a future plan, they said “We (Harley-Davidson) are #1, why should we do anything different?”
We thank Harley-Davidson for letting us interview them and for the GM’s time in answering our questions.
We would love to interview Willie G. Davidson one day and learn more about the future of Harley-Davidson. Because the “lack of a future plan and no future models or integration” is disturbing to us.
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