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Harley-Davidson new boss faces Aussie sales slump

Harley-Davidson Australia and New Zealand new boss Paul Skarie

Harley-Davidson Australia and New Zealand has a new boss just at a time when sales are starting to slump after several strong years.

American Paul Skarie (pictured above) has been named managing director of HDA, following the departure of Aussie Nigel Keough for regional head office in Singapore.

During Nigel’s term from late 2014, Harley sales went from 8577 and second place behind Honda in road bike sales to 8903 in 2017 and first place. 

However, the industry is now suffering with a significant sales slump of 9.3% last year and -1.2% in the first quarter of this year. 

Meanwhile, Harley is down a massive 19.9% in the first quarter as Paul takes over the difficult reins from Nigel.

Plans to fix sales slumpHarley-Davidson Australia and New Zealand new boss Paul Skarie

We are hoping to get an interview soon with the new MD to find out what he has planned to recover from the sales slump and reach out to new riders.

However, in an official press release, he says he will not ignore existing riders.

“Our existing riders play a huge role in fostering and helping the next generation of Harley riders understand how amazing life can be on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle,” he says. 

“We are a brand built on freedom, and with the incredible riding roads in Australia and New Zealand, and our 100-year heritage here, I couldn’t think of better place to bring new product to market and help build the brand for the future.”

Harley-Davidson Australia and New Zealand new boss Paul Skarie
Paul gets to know Aussie roads on one of Harley’s top-selling Softail Breakouts

Paul joined Harley-Davidson in 2007 and in the past 11 years he has held positions in the US and global market, including Director of Regional Sales, Director of Dealer Developments, Director of Retail Development, Director of Integrated Consumer Experiences and Director of Parts and Technical Service.

Before that, his Linked In profile says he worked in sales and marketing in American insurance and tobacco companies.

Harley VP and MD for International Markets, Marc McAllister, says Australia and New Zealand are important markets.  

“As mature markets, the characteristics are similar to the US,” he says. 

“This represents a great opportunity for Paul to bring his deep experience in US field sales leadership, dealer development and service to Australia and New Zealand.”

  1. Wanna solve the problem?

    Make them cheaper and better looking… All the new models as simply too ugly and they cost as much as top models from other manufactures without anything unique and lacking technology and evolution. Young people just don’t like them anymore, they are not fun, they are not cheap, mechanically complicated, unreliable, etc…


    1. Unreliable? It’s a pushrod, air-cooled twin. Oil+petrol+air. Don’t get more reliable. Just top it up every once in a while and service it every 8000km. Fun? It’s got two wheels, so basic ingredients covered. Ugly? Put any late model HD right beside any other manufacturer and ask joe-public which one has sex appeal. My ‘72 always gets compliments and she’s grey as a battleship. Cost? Harley do 3.99% finance on year old models, after huge discounts. Insurance is cheap too if you’re not a crasher. HD have RBW (best I’ve ridden, smooth with no snatch) ABS, fuel injection, cruise available on all RBW Models as an option, keyless ignition that actually works, an alarm that is fricking loud and the best stock horns on any bike out there.

      Most people just whine about them without riding them. My softail was 330kg, with cruise and abs. Stopped with one finger, absolutely planted on turns and changed directions perfectly.

      Go actually ride some. I did, now I’ll always have one HD in my garage, they’re just charismatic. The old 103TC had a beautiful lope to the engine, that deluxe actually galloped along.

      HD dealers are usually the best presented bike stores in this country, bar none. Go check Morgan and Wacker and gasoline alley out. Excellent staff and great service.

      Good work HD, your only problem is old mindsets and haters. I update every 2 years or so, you’ve got a customer for life. Currently eyeing a heritage classic 107, gorgeous bike.

      1. @James, you said the magic words mate:

        “My ‘72 always gets compliments and she’s grey as a battleship…”
        Why don’t you try doing that with the latest Fat Bob?

        I am not going to start an argument, there is no point. As you are expecting everyone to understand your point of view as a HD fan, I am telling you mine from a person that really wanted one until I got there 4 months back… Now I ride a Ducati that was cheaper, longer warranty, less money, premium materials, absolutely beautiful design, less service intervals, and get plenty of compliments.

        I really whished they would listen to people more… young people like me, that want something a bit different but yet still looking for that feel and “taste” that I had when I was small and saw an HD rumbling past me…

        1. 8000 k service intervals? Most modern bikes have 12000, or even 15000km intervals, and when you are paying $500 on average, that makes a big difference. Of course if you can afford an HD money is the least of your concern, right?

  2. Bring back the V Rod would be a good start,dumbest thing ever discontinuing what was the perfect bike of the future.

  3. Get rid of the learner legal bikes. People starting out riding on Harleys is not right. You need to earn your stripes before you get to ride the best motorbike EVER.

    1. And there lies a lot of the problem Attitude..Buying a Harley does not make you an instant outlaw or from what i have seen a skilled rider.It just means you have more money than other people. The younger riders /customisers i see are quite happy with smaller capacity bikes so why not supply them?. Harley has been leading sales for some time it had to slump or at least level off at some time as its core buyer group dies off…or moves to mobility scooters

  4. Get rid of the learner legal shit. You have to earn your stripes before riding a Harley.

  5. Bring back V-Rod, a big market in Australia. They were all lined up for sale when HD announced they discontinued the model and they all sold.

  6. The only Harley I’ve ever considered seriously is the V-Rod. But hang on…they’ve just killed that model.

  7. It’s one thing to market yourself to new customers but remember to take care of those loyal Harley owners so they stay with the brand.
    H-D Aussie need to remember they have a lot of competition for sales and loosing existing customers is not the best way forward.

  8. Hi. I’ve been a keen motorcycle rider for about almost 50yrs. That includes Harleys. I’ve owned 5 harley’s over a number of years. What angers me is the price of after sales accessories. The price of SE parts is by far the most over inflated of the vast majority of bikes. I own a new FLHXS and excitedly read the catalog and call the dealer only to be given a space high price of a simple part. Fir instance, a high rise windshield. Cost $250.00. This simply a piece of plastic perspex. No more, and to add insult, Made in China! I’m keen as, to add a long list of parts, but, they are really cost prohibited. If you are going to do anything, pls address the issue of the cost of parts Accessories. Instead of fitting after market parts. I want my Harley fitted with genuine parts.

    Hope you will do something about it, but i don’t think anything will happen. So, I’ll continue to use a better and cost affordable accessories.kind regards
    Ed W

  9. I am not a HD fan but have had lots of bikes and imo HD is on the right track with the small 500cc (Indian take note ) as they have to attract younger riders as stated before the older ones are now looking at mobility scooters.
    Maybe they dont even have to be a V twin, if they can introduce buyers with whatever then work on natural progression to (Vtwins ), I hear they are working on Electric bikes as well so that shows they have the finger on the pulse
    Just my 2 bobs worth

  10. Why would i buy a HD, when I can buy a comparable if not better bike for $10.000 less?

  11. I’ve been riding Harleys for twenty-five years and my latest is a 2017 CVO Steet Glide my fifth. If I read this article correctly they are going to be manufactured in Thailand for the Australian market. If this is so this may be my last one

    1. Hi Buck,
      No one knows what will happen under the current trade wars, however, I doubt Harley would ever make its premium CVO line outside of the USA.

  12. If I buy a Harley Davidson made in Thailand I want to make sure I get a great lady boy with it, after all all Harley riders love Lady boys I do !

  13. Just Bought a 2018 Breakout 114.
    best two weeks of my life, then after installing new handle bars, a warning light came on…
    Took it to the dealership where i bought the bike… they took it apart then gave it back with more warning lights on than when i dropped it off.
    basically they stuffed it up and now washed their hands and have told me that it will take 2 months to get a basic part in ..
    so ive just spent $30k on a bike that i cant ride for 2 months.

    I’m so upset and depressed … if i ever get the bike back ill sell it. NEVER would have bought a machine if i had of known it would take 2 months for a basic part on a current model.
    you can get anything flown in from around the world in less than 36 hours – its 2020.. how is this even a thing



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