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Harley-Davidson CEO: Motorcycle business holding up despite 'challenging' environment

Harley-Davidson (HOG) CEO Jochen Zeitz says demand for motorcycles is solid despite the upheavals in the global stock market.

"I think we are doing really well given the environment we are in," Zeitz said on Yahoo Finance Live (video above). "We did the 'Rewire' program during COVID, when it started. We have our 'Hardwire strategy.' We are on track."

In January 2021, Harley-Davidson announced it completed its "Rewire" plan to reinvigorate the brand under turnaround expert Zeitz. As part of the program, Harley streamlined its product portfolio, expanded the business for parts and merchandise, and overhauled its organizational structure. That laid the groundwork for the company's next 5-year strategic plan, called "The Hardwire" to deliver profitable growth.

"Obviously we are facing, just like everybody else, supply chain challenges, which are holding us back a little bit, but overall our margins are up significantly," the CEO added on the company's progress. "We believe we will have a record EPS this year, and we are delivering on our strategy despite the fact that the environment is certainly challenging."

Harley-Davidson stock turned lower during midday trading on Tuesday, a monumental day for the motorcycle giant given that its LiveWire electric bike unit merged with a SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) called AEA-Bridges Impact Corp. The deal valued LiveWire at $1.77 billion, and Harley will hold a 74% equity interest in the spun-off company.

On Tuesday, LiveWire shares began trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol LVWR.

The road to take LiveWire public has been filled with twists and turns.

The iconic American company unveiled Project LiveWire in June 2014 with a marketing campaign for electric motorcycles that toured along Route 66 (under then-CEO Matt Levatich) to drum up interest for its first electric bike.

By 2018, the company, still under Levatich, released the super powerful LiveWire electric motorcycle with a sticker price close to $30,000. At that price, dealers had trouble selling the impressive piece of machinery.

Electric motorcycles by Harley-Davidson and LiveWire are seen at a Harley-Davidson dealership in Queens, New York City, U.S., February 7, 2022. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Electric motorcycles by Harley-Davidson and LiveWire are seen at a Harley-Davidson dealership in Queens, New York City, U.S., February 7, 2022. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

LiveWire, under the leadership of Zeitz, took a different approach in July 2021 when it unveiled the LiveWire One motorcycle with a sticker price closer to $22,000. The bike is able to travel about 146 miles on a single charge.

Just before the debut of the LiveWire One, Zeitz established the business as a standalone entity as a precursor to the spin-off news this week.

The company is currently taking pre-orders on its $16,999 EV dubbed the S2 Del Mar.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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