Harley-Davidson and Indian Motorcycle Reveal Q3 Reports

Jean Turner | October 30, 2019

Third quarter 2019 reports were released by both Harley-Davidson and Polaris last week on October 22, revealing a continual drop in sales for both. Harley’s decline was less than expected while Polaris’ Indian Motorcycle showed a decrease of “low-double-digit percent.”

Harley-Davidson Q3 Report

The downward trend continues for the Motor Company, but numbers in the Harley-Davidson Q3 Report are actually better than what was expected, suggesting that Harley has slowed the bleed. Sales are down 3.6% on domestic sales, but continue to grow internationally, with a 2.7% increase for the third quarter. Of the motorcycle product mix, the Touring segment (Harley’s largest chunk of the pie) is being hit the hardest with a decrease in unit sales of more than 10%. The Sporster/Street segment is down 6.5% while the Cruiser division is… well, cruising right along. Still, the numbers outperformed the expectations for Harley.

2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire specifications
Has the Motor Company slowed the bleed? The Harley-Davidson Q3 report suggests they might have, despite the recent LiveWire e-bike hiccup.

In the days prior to the Harley-Davidson Q3 report earnings release, H-D experienced a bit of a headache with the halt in production of the heavily touted LiveWire electric motorcycle. But production resumed after the alleged battery charging issue was found to be limited to a single motorcycle. The “shocking” issue proved to be little more than a speed bump for Harley-Davidson, and didn’t stop their stock from climbing back into the 40s.

The bigger headache for the Motor Company, and probably the darkest news of the Harley-Davidson Q3 report, is the 24% decrease in profits over last year’s period, which the company can mainly attribute to the spike in tariffs. Harley-Davidson sites the “Impact of recent EU and China tariffs” have nearly doubled over last year’s third quarter, having risen to a year-to-date total of $76.9M, further burdening the Motor Company.

(Polaris) Indian Motorcycle Q3 Report

Polaris reports that the decrease in Indian Motorcycle retail sales is in the “low-double-digit percent”—far outweighing the overall downward trend of the mid- and heavyweight motorcycle market. Gross profits also shrank substantially for Indian, from $20M last year to $12M in 2019, which Polaris says in the Indian Motorcycle Q3 Report is “primarily due to tariff costs and negative mix.”

Indian Motorcycle 2020 Scout 100th Anniversary
Indian Motorcycle sales are down by “low-double digits” in the third quarter. Fortunately the brand is buoyed by healthy sales in the broader scope of Polaris powersports.

Polaris mitigated some of the discouraging Q3 news with a big reveal of their all-new water-cooled V-twin PowerPlus engine on the same day as their quarterly report. If the low-double-digit deficit points to a decreasing market share for Indian Motorcycle, they are certainly aiming to get it back with the PowerPlus. Indian says it will pump out a class-leading 122 horsepower and will serve as the heart of the new Indian Challenger, an all-new fixed-fairing bagger that promises to be “the highest-performing American V-Twin ever developed.”

Click here for more about the Indian Motorcycle PowerPlus and Indian Challenger motorcycle.

Jean Turner | Contributor A former staffer at Cycle News, Turner continues to contribute to the website and magazine as a columnist and someone we can count on to whip up a few thousand words on an off-road race when needed.