Harley-Davidson President and CEO Matt Levatich has stepped down from the American motorcycle manufacturer, ending his career spanning 26 years at the Bar and Shield brand, the world's largest manufacturer of heavyweight cruiser motorcycles. Levatich's exit from Harley-Davidson comes after the iconic brand's lowest motorcycle sales in the US in at least 16 years. Harley-Davidson has been struggling against a sales slump, more prevalent in the brand's domestic market, as Harley and other heavyweight motorcycle manufacturers have been under pressure. Young people, widely regarded as a new motorcycle consumer base, aren't widely embracing big cruiser and touring motorcycles, and longtime riders are aging out of motorcycle riding.
"I am very fortunate to have spent years with a company as revered as Harley-Davidson. The grit and determination of the employees and dealers and their passion for bringing our brand of freedom to people around the world has always been inspiring. I am proud of what we have achieved during my time as CEO, in one of the most challenging periods in our history, and I am confident that the progress we have made on the 'More Roads' plan will position Harley-Davidson for long-term success," Levatich said in a statement.
The Board of Directors has appointed current Board member Jochen Zeitz as Acting President and CEO. A committee of the Board will be formed, and the Company will utilise an external search firm to undertake a search for a new CEO, and a further announcement will be made at a later date. Levatich will assist with the transition through the end of March. As part of the leadership change, Jochen Zeitz has also been named Chairman of the Board and will remain Chairman once a new CEO is appointed.
During Levatich's term, Harley-Davidson started a 'More Roads To Harley-Davidson' accelerated growth plan in July 2018, to include more customers within the Harley-Davidson brand. The 'More Roads' plan intends to introduce a whole new range of Harley-Davidson motorcycle models within the next few years, not just to extend the genre of motorcycles to include sportier and adventure-oriented models like the upcoming Harley-Davidson Pan America, but also to grow ridership globally, as well as accurately analyse, predict and react to changing market conditions and successfully adjust to shifting global consumer needs and interests.