Harley-Davidson heads to Columbus: Will participate at 2017 AIMExpo

COLUMBUS, OH and IRVINE, CA – Harley-Davidson will bring its 2018 new model lineup to September’s AIMExpo presented by Nationwide, Dealernews has confirmed.

This is the first time Harley-Davidson is exhibiting at the national show, now in its fifth year. AIMExpo will be held Sept. 21-14 in Columbus, OH.

The Motor Co. will showcase its new model lineup in a large inside exhibit area and will host demo rides at the AIMExpo Outdoors feature, according to Larry Little, vice president and general manager of MIC Events, which organizes AIMExpo.

“We’re still learning about all their activations around the show,” Little told Dealernews. He added that Harley-Davidson may also host offsite events in the Columbus area during expo week.

A spokesperson for Harley-Davidson Friday afternoon confirmed the manufacturer’s presence at the upcoming AIMExpo.

The Big ‘Get’
Excitement was already starting to build around the 2017 show as major vehicle manufacturers, including Indian, Kawasaki, Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, KTM, Textron and BRP, had announced their plans to be there, with Kawasaki adding that it will do a global unveil of a new model in Columbus. The missing piece was Harley-Davidson, the heavyweight in American motorcycling.

“Having Harley, having Indian, really puts an exclamation point on where AIMExpo is at this time,” Little said.

Image: Harley-Davidson

“It says a lot about the early maturity of AIMExpo,” Little continued. The show, which also announced Nationwide as its presenting sponsor, “is starting to gain the critical mass we envisioned five years ago” when Little and Mike Webster, now MIC vice president, conceived the idea of an EICMA-like event for the United States.

Now that Harley and Indian are onboard, AIMExpo will span most motorcycle lifestyle segments, from V-twin and street to sport, adventure and dirt. The breadth of the show, its planned new product and new model unveils, and the geographical convenience of the Columbus location will provide the reason for more Dealers to attend during the trade-only days and more consumers to descend on Columbus during the weekend, when the show is open to the public, organizers say.

Little said AIMExpo expects as much as a 50 percent boost in Dealer attendance this year, compared to the 2016 show in Orlando, FL.

While focusing on the future of American motorcycling in its displays and through new show features like Custom Culture, AIMExpo also will acknowledge its heritage. Harley-Davidson, interestingly, will be coming to the home town of its longest running dealership, A.D. Farrow Co., which also is exhibiting at AIMExpo. “The addition of this iconic American brand, Harley-Davidson, very much completes the grand stage,” said A.D. Farrow principal Bob Althoff. (Althoff also is president of Dealernews.)

Columbus is within a half-day’s drive/ride from Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Cincinnati and Indianapolis, and a day’s road trip from Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit, Nashville and areas in-between.

Hotel bookings are reportedly pacing ahead of schedule; show organizers advise Dealers to register for AIMExpo and make their hotel reservations early.