H-D to Discontinue Buell, Sell MV Agusta

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Harley-Davidson plans to discontinue its Buell product line and divest its MV Agusta unit.

The move, approved Oct. 14 by Harley-Davidson's Board of Directors, is part of the OEM's new business strategy to drive growth through "a single-minded focus of efforts and resources."

"Moving forward, our strategy is designed to strengthen Harley-Davidson for long-term growth and deliver results through increased focus," says Keith Wandell, Chief Executive Officer of Harley-Davidson, Inc. "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."

The Buell Motorcycle Company, East Troy, Wis., was founded by ex-Harley-Davidson engineer and privateer racer Erik Buell. Buell Motor Co. first partnered with H-D in 1993, and became a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Motor Company in 1998.

Remaining inventories of Buell motorcycles, accessories and apparel, while they last, will continue to be sold through authorized dealerships. Warranty coverage will continue as normal for Buell motorcycles and the company will provide replacement parts and service through dealerships.

The decision will result in a reduction over time of about 80 hourly production positions and about 100 salaried positions at Buell. Employment will end for the majority of Buell employees Dec. 18.

Harley-Davidson, Inc. purchased 100 percent of MV Agusta Group shares for about $108 million in August 2008. At the time, MV was retailing 5,800-some bikes through a worldwide network of about 500 dealers.

H-D says it will immediately commence efforts to sell the business, which is based in Varese, Italy.

"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."

See a video from Erik Buell at www.Buell.com.

Harley-Davidson shipped 6,900 Buell and MV Agusta motorcycles worldwide from January through June.

—Submitted by Guido Ebert