Harley-Davidson is discontinuing the Buell product line of motorcycles and seeking buyers for the recently acquired MV Agusta.
The Motor Company announced the news in its third quarter 2009 report Oct. 15. Worldwide Harley-Davidson retail sales dropped 21.3% over the quarter compared to the same period in 2008.
"While the environment remains challenging for us, we are mildly encouraged by the moderation in the decline of dealer retail Harley-Davidson motorcycle sales," says Keith Wandell, chief executive officer of Harley-Davidson, Inc. "And moving forward, our strategy is designed to strengthen Harley-Davidson for long-term growth and deliver results through increased focus.
"As our announcement regarding Buell and MV Agusta indicates, we are moving with the speed and decisiveness required to bring our business strategy to life," says Wandell. "The fact is we must focus both our effort and our investment on the Harley-Davidson brand, as we believe this provides an optimal path to sustained, meaningful, long-term growth."
Buell production will end Oct. 30 and a limited number of new motorcycles will still be available at dealerships. Harley-Davidson will continue to provide replacement parts and service at dealerships for Buell motorcycles and warranties will be honored.
"I want to personally thank all our past and present Buell employees, dealers and suppliers for their efforts. I also want to thank Buell motorcycle owners for their support and passion for the brand," says Jon Flickinger, Buell Motorcycle Company president.
The decision to shut down Buell will eliminate 80 hourly production jobs and 100 salaried positions. A majority of Buell staff will be employed until Dec. 18. Harley-Davidson will incur a one-time cost of $125 million by shutting down Buell.
Erik Buell, founder, chairman and chief technical officer of Buell released a video statement on the company’s website http://www.buell.com/.
"I will always be proud of what we have accomplished. It is a testimony to what a small group of passionate and inspired people can do, and with brilliant innovations, we’ve produced some of the best-handling bikes of all time," says Buell. "I personally look forward to exploring how I can continue to work with Harley-Davidson to bring advanced product technology to riders.
"I have also had the great fortune to meet and get to know many Buell riders over the years, and they are an amazing and interesting group of free thinkers," Buell says. "May you ride with pride into the future. And may your roads ahead be as adventuresome and rewarding as mine have been for the last 26 years."
Harley-Davidson will immediately begin seeking buyers for Varese, Italy, based MV Agusta. Harley-Davidson acquired MV Agusta in 2008.
"Buell and MV Agusta are great companies, with proud brands, high-quality exciting products and passionate enthusiasm for the motorcycle business," says Wandell. "Buell has introduced many innovative advancements in motorcycle design and technology over the years and MV Agusta is known in Europe for its premium, high-performance sport motorcycles. However, our strategy to focus on the Harley-Davidson brand reflects the fact that we believe our investments in that brand are a better utilization of overall company resources."
More: Harley-Davidson shutting down Buell on Motorcycle.com