Harley-Davidson restarts production, but the company is reportedly shipping 70% fewer bikes to dealers in 2020

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Harley-Davidson restarts production, but the company is reportedly shipping 70% fewer bikes to dealers in 2020
Harleys on the road.Getty Images

Harley-Davidson is reopening its factories this week at lower production rates and sending dealers a narrower range of motorcycles, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

The motorcycle maker, which closed its US assembly plants in March due to the coronavirus outbreak, may not ship any additional new motorcycles this year to about 70% of its 698 dealers in the country, the report said.

Earlier in 2020, Harley replaced CEO Matt Levatich with board member Jochen Zeitz, first as acting, then as permanent chief executive. Zeitz had served as CEO of athletic brand Puma.

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Zeitz immediately discontinued Levatich's ambitious "Open Road" strategy, which sought to expand Harley's products and grow its ridership. The new CEO described his plan, called "Rewire," to Wall Street analysts after the company reported first-quarter earnings.

"As a result of my observations and assessment, I've concluded that we need to take significant actions and rewire the company now in terms of priorities, execution, operating model and strategy to drive sustained profit and long term growth," Zeitz said.

"We're calling it The Rewire and it is our playbook for the next few months, leading to a new five-year strategic plan which we'll share when visibility to the future returns."

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Harley shares moved up about 4% in pre-market trading on Wednesday, to $23. Year-to-date, the stock is down over 40%.

(Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)

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