Harley-Davidson is a brand that, like Nike and Apple, represent not only American design philosophy but are also emblematic of American culture itself. It’s hard not to imagine the sight of someone cruising along in a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and not also imagine it being done on a long, lonely American highway. The brand originated in Wisconsin over a hundred years ago and has since become a worldwide phenomenon. However, the road ahead for the company looks to be bumpier than ever.
New tariffs placed on steel imports into the United States have sent economic shockwaves around the world. The countries impacted by them – Canada, Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Turkey, Japan and Taiwan – have reacted in their own way. Some are doing what they can to diversify their exports, while others are enacting their own retaliatory measures.
European leaders are threatening to take out their frustrations with Trump policy by placing a tariff on American brands that rely on overseas sales to survive, including Harley-Davidson. Other items on the list include jeans and bourbon suppliers, other quintessentially American lifestyle icons.
This kind of trade war can have devastating effects on a company that relies on overseas sales to survive. Europe alone accounts for 16% of all Harley-Davidson sales on the global market, and that number is set to dwindle in coming years if these measures are put into place.
A dark road ahead
It’s sobering news for the company that is already facing a dramatic decline in fortunes locally. It recently reported a 40% loss in quarterly profit, partially blamed on a failure to capture the youth market in a world where fuel-hungry, highway-bound vehicles are being eschewed in favour of economic city-hopping electric vehicles or, even, people opting to just rely on public transport or ride sharing services.
Additionally, the steel supplier tariffs placed by the United States in order to protect American businesses are ironically having a negative effect on Harley-Davidson. The company imports the vast majority of its steel from overseas and therefore has to raise the sticker price on its line of motorcycles, further making them harder to sell.
Only the future will tell what will happen, and the team at ShapeCUT will be there to see it. We’ve been in the business for over 20 years and work with steel of all sizes to make anything you can imagine. Contact ShapeCUT today to see what we can do for you.
Image source: Washington Post photo by Jabin Botsford