Harley-Davidson is focusing on electric bikes and has hired Ford CEO

Harley-Davidson Inc. has named Jim Farley, the CEO of Ford Motor Company, to its board of directors, the latest move by CEO Jochen Zeitz as he attempts to revive the struggling motorcycle manufacturer and prepare it for an electric future.

Jim Farley
Jim Farley
  • Farley’s appointment was announced in a letter to shareholders from Zeitz dated April 9 and included in a filing prior to the company’s annual shareholders meeting on May 20.
  • Farley, who took over as CEO of Ford in October and is known for his passion for motorsports, owns a number of classic Harley-Davidson motorcycles. He is the only new member of the board of directors.

Farley and Zeitz are both looking to embrace electrification in order to improve their century-old businesses. When Zeitz was a Harley board member, he championed the brand’s first electric motorcycle, the LiveWire, and was hired as the company’s first “chief electric vehicle officer” last month. 

  • Ford has nearly increased its spending on electrification under Farley, to $22 billion.

Zeitz intends to increase investment in Harley’s core heavyweight-bike market, which has been diminishing across the industry, as well as create a separate electric-motorcycle division.

  • In its home market, the company sold 103,650 bikes last year, a 22 percent decline and the lowest amount in at least a decade.
  • As part of an arrangement with activist investor Impala Asset Management LLC, Harley-Davidson announced last year that it would appoint an independent director to its board of directors.

    Harley Davidson
    Harley Davidson

Ford and Harley-Davidson are two of America’s most recognizable manufacturers, brands that are synonymous with not only manufacturing prowess but also with the American identity. For more than a decade, Ford sold a Harley-Davidson version of its most profitable model, the F-150 pickup truck, which has been the best-selling vehicle of any kind in America for four decades.

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