Harley-Davidson CEO Matthew Levatich has stepped down amid slump in sales. Levatich took this decision after spending 26 years with the iconic American motorcycle maker. He was promoted to the position of chief executive in 2015. Some reports suggest that Levatich will also step down from the post of the board of directors. “I consider myself very fortunate because I got to spent so many years with a company as revered as Harley-Davidson,” Levatich was quoted as saying in the statement posted on the website of the company. Board member Jochen Zeitz will be interim CEO and acting president while Harley-Davidson looks for a new leader. Zeitz is known for reviving the Puma sneaker brand.
The development comes at a time when the iconic bike brand is struggling to control the slump in demands for its motorcycles over year. As CEO, Levatich faced several challenges including heightened tariff costs as a result of a trade war of US President Donald Trump. The motorcycle manufacturer was hopeful of achieving lost shine with the launch of its first electric motorcycle – LiveWire. It got a positive review but it is yet to start sales. The company is also facing tough competition from more affordable bikes. Italy’s Ducati and UK’s Triumph along with the resurgent Indian bike makers have resulted in a multi-front battle.
Keeping this in mind, Harley introduced less-expensive bikes like ‘Street’ with a starting price of USD 7,600. ‘Street’ is competing with many European and Asian models where the iconic bike company has been trying to grow market share. The company that made a strong come back in the early 1980s is now struggling to find new buyers in the age of Tesla, Uber and several other transportation options. Harley is expecting to find some younger buyers with its middle-weight models and electric motorcycles. The company has also started shipping motorcycles to China and Europe from a new factory in Thailand. This will mitigate the cost burden from the tariffs on bikes made in the US.