Fortune.com, the website of Fortune magazine, just ran an article hailing the reliability of Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Half of my readers are beaming with pride, the other half are wondering if they read that wrong.
Even Harley-Davidson motorcyclists, like me, have to recognize the irony. For years, the Motor Company hasn’t exactly been known as the most reliable motorcycle on the road. In fact, there’s an old joke that goes: “There are over one million motorcycles on the road in America… the other half made it home in one piece.”
Even the motor company itself admits that the company’s AMF-owned years (the entire 1970’s) were pretty bad as far as quality, finish, and reliability are concerned. But that’s all in the past according to an article on Fortune.com titled Harley-Davidson’s Has a Big Problem and It’s Not Trump. It’s That Its Motorcycles Don’t Fall Apart Fast Enough, which states:
In a world of planned obsolescence gone mad, one company is still making reliable products–and it’s a huge problem.
Harley-Davidson (HOG, -2.89%) motorcycles don’t wear out quickly, in function or in style, and it means the company is competing against its own used motorcycles for sales. In the U.S. there are now three used Harleys sold for each new one—a decade age, the ratio was reversed, the Wall Street Journal reports—and it’s bringing down the company’s revenues.
And now we’re all thinking the same thing: Who wrote this?! Who indeed. When you’re trying to find the culprit, you should start by asking the question: Who benefits?
I get what the gist of the article is about. Harley is competing against the used market. OK… and every other motorcycle manufacturer isn’t?
And so we’re left wondering just what it is we’re reading here. Did Fortune.com really publish the thoughts of a poorly-informed author who’s never heard of Japanese motorcycle manufacturers or their legendary reliability… or did Fortune.com just publish an advertisement disguised as an article?