Is Harley Davidson going to make the same mistake again?

In the 1970’s Harley Davidson lost its way. Sales were falling and the company was in big financial trouble. The management at the time decided the solution was to expand their range and move into new industry segments.

A good idea, in principle, but it was executed with one major flaw, they forgot their DNA. Instead of staying true to the Brands rebellious, “bad boy” essence, they built a motorcycle that didn’t fit with their DNA at all, the MX250. It was of course a complete disaster, selling less than 1000 units. It appealed to neither Harley riders or Motocross riders. It doesn’t even get a mention on their website in the “History Timeline”

Fast forward 40 years and I wonder if in 2020 they will make the same mistake with their new electric range. I applaud the fact that Harley Davidson are looking to embrace the future, electrify their range and appeal to new customers. What they need to do is ensure they are the most “bad ass” e-bikes you can buy. They must fit the rebellious character of the Brand.

Their new Live Wire E-Bike appears to do that but the will the new scooters & bicycles be able to pull off the same trick? Some of the prototypes they have shown appear to be “on brand”, others not. Some of the designs look like they could have come from any other mainstream manufacturer.

They are just prototypes for now, so it’s hard to say what the final designs will look like. What is clear is that, if they don’t learn from those past mistakes and follow their DNA, then in the future the Brand may once again be in peril. They will end up with new products that appeal to neither Brand loyalists or provide a compelling point of difference for new customers.

Don’t stuff it up Harley, your future is “riding” on this.