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Harley-Davidson's new strategy: Smaller bikes, more foreign sales

By Ed Adamczyk
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Harley-Davidson's new strategy: Smaller bikes, more foreign sales
American-made Harley-Davidson motorcycles are parked outside a showroom in Beijing on June 27. Monday, the bike maker announced a new strategy to expand foreign sales, due to U.S.-imposed tariffs. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

July 30 (UPI) -- Motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson unveiled a growth plan on Monday calling for lighter motorcycles and increased attention to foreign sales.

The Milwaukee-based company, often regarded as maker of iconic American products, said it will launch a new platform by 2020 of middleweight motorcycles with engines of 500cc to 1250cc capacity, and a smaller model for emerging markets in Asia.

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The company's growth plan through 2022 includes attracting those who have never owned a motorcycle, developing smaller urban dealerships and "unlocking new markets and segments," the company said in a statement Monday.

"We're going to be doubling down on existing products," Harley-Davidson CEO Matt Levatich told CNBC on Monday. "We're going to invest in an all-new middleweight platform, which is a modular chassis and a very core engine technology to go in three dramatically different spaces: adventure touring, custom and street fighter."

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Sales have fallen in the past year, and Harley-Davidson stock has declined 15 percent so far this year. The company has had trouble finding millennial buyers in the United States and international sales during the second quarter rose 0.7 percent while domestic sales fell 6.4 percent.

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Levatich acknowledged "unfortunate attention" after the company announced it would increase production in foreign countries, following retaliatory European Union tariffs prompted by tariff threats of President Donald Trump.

Trump responded with a tweet critical of Harley-Davidson.

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"Harley-Davidson should stay 100% in America, with the people that got you your success."

Levatich said Harley-Davidson is an apolitical business.

"We just deal with what we have to deal with. We are not a political organization."

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