The CEOs of both Harley-Davidson and Polaris Industries spoke at the Columbus show, stressing the need to attract younger motorcyclists.

Harley, Polaris Execs Seek New Riders

Last weekend’s AIMExpo show in Columbus, Ohio, opened with the heads of both Harley-Davidson and Polaris Industries urging the industry to work together in appealing to new riders. According to the trade publication Dealernews, Harley CEO Matt Levatich and Polaris CEO Scott Wine both spoke on the need to develop new customers.

Republican representative Jim Renacci, a candidate for governor of Ohio, read a letter from Vice Presiden Mike Pence, who had been invited to the opening session but declined due to other commitments.

“President Trump and I want you to know that we are fighting to make this country the best place on earth for you to do business,” Pence wrote. “We are rolling back regulations, reforming the tax code, fixing America’s roadways, and paving the way to a stronger, more prosperous tomorrow. Whether you are launching your products or gearing up for the ride, I hope that the AIMExpo inspires you as you work to fuel the motorcycling industry of the future.”

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Despite the progress made by Polaris in product development and market share, Wine admitted the industry has problems.

“The reality isn’t fantastic,” he said. “We’ve got a long way to go.”

He stressed the need for new product, more focus on youtng riders, and creating a community among dealerships. He underlined the importance of helping customers order their vehicles online, and working to develop an on-demand system to make ordering motorcycles to exact customer specifications easier. Wine also indicated that a new rental program for Slingshot roadsters was in the works.

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Matt Levatich underscored the necessity of building a new generation of motorcycle enthusiasts, outlining Harley-Davidson’s new rider training program.

“Let’s not forget what an awesome thing riding is,” he said. “We all love the hardware. Everyone is fixated on the hardware. But hardware alone won’t cut it anymore.”

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Levatich said that the whole industry will have to do as well at attracting new riders as it is at building motorcycles. He urged listeners to focus first on the riding aspect, followed by the riders themselves, then the hardware. He also urged the media to look beyond new products and emphasis the riding experience.