Shocker – Buell is dead!

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Eric Buell giving the video message of the end of the line for the motorcycles that carry his name (click on image to go directly to video page)

The Buell brand has been killed by
Harley-Davidson management, according to a notice today (October 15) on the
official Buell web site. The decision will result in the loss of about 80
manufacturing jobs and about 100 salaried positions.

H-D also announced that it planned
to sell the Italian superbike MV Agusta brand that it only purchased last
summer for $109 million.

H-D has been restructuring to cope
with weaker sales. The company has cut more than 1,000 jobs, implemented
temporary production shutdowns, and is considering closing its assembly plant
in York, Pa. H-D’s new long-term strategy is to focus efforts and resources on
the Harley-Davidson brand.

"I want to personally thank all our
past and present Buell employees, dealers and suppliers for their efforts. I
also want to thank Buell motorcycle owners for their support and passion for
the brand," said Buell Motorcycle Company President Jon Flickinger. He added
that Harley-Davidson will continue to provide replacement parts and service
through dealerships, and that warranty coverage will continue as normal for
Buell motorcycles.

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And we all thought that it was just the Blast that was going to be crushed .. 

Buell founder Erik Buell said, "I
will always be proud of what we have accomplished. It is a testimony to what a
small group of passionate and inspired people can do, and with brilliant
innovations, we’ve produced some of the best-handling bikes of all time. I personally look forward to
exploring how I can continue to work with Harley-Davidson to bring advanced
product technology to riders."

The announcement came in
conjunction with H-D announcing a 21% drop in sales and an 84% drop in income
in the last quarter compared to 2008, and a 27% drop in shipped units.

"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,"
said CEO Keith Wandell.

The official release can be found
here.

1 COMMENT

  1. Harley showed they were willing to restructure and take drastic measures. But their radical solution was to jettison everything that did not support the HD riding “lifestyle”. They will milk that cash cow until the dried teats snap off. Buell was HD’s only connection to the real world that the rest of us non-HD folks live in…and younger future riders as well. I hope they live to regret this and I hope Erik can start again elsewhere.

  2. Without even trying hard, I came up with this list of motorcycle companies/brands that have ceased production. Add Buell to the end:

    Maico
    AJS
    Hodaka
    Can-Am, brand name revived
    Ducati, died, revived
    Xcelsior Henderson
    Indian
    Triumph
    Greeves
    DKW

    I do expect Erik Buell to resurface though.

  3. Talk about short sightedness! They need to get the sub-40 crowd into their showrooms. Imagine a HD dealership with Buell’s in one corner and MV Agusta in another and a dealer network that really knows and supports the brands. Not sure what happens north of the border but down here when you walk into a HD dealer and want to talk Buell, good luck. Eric screwed up letting HD do his distribution. Not very scientific but I did a quick look on E-Bay.
    2841 – HD’s for sale
    1438 – Honda’s for sale
    Harley has approx. 28% of the US market, Honda has about 25%. There should be some correlation in the used bike market. But the Baby Boomers with disposable income that pushed HD up, up and away no longer have the disposable income and are now disposing of their bikes.

  4. This can hardly be a surprise.
    HD bought out Buell so they could have a sportbike division. Buell, sinking their teeth deep into the hand feeding them, bought a non-HD engine and made a bike that runs circles around the HD powered models.

  5. It’s too bad that Buell is gone – I think they were just really starting to come into their own with the Rotax engine and new designs based around them. A nice upright naked bike or adventure tourer based around it might have been right up my alley.

    Anyway, although Eric is obviously quite emotionally affected by this decision on the part of H-D, don’t feel too bad for him. He made his bed when he decided to sell out to H-D, and is undoubtedly quite financially well-off for it. Save your sympathy for his employees who are now out of a job.

  6. the biggest tragedy is losing a man of such great vision and passion! Not many corporate CEO’s would give a crap to see their companies close but Eric Buell gave his life to building a better motorcycle.You just can’t replace that kind of commitment to motorcycling and Buell and his great products ( like them or not) will leave a large void in motorcycling. Soon there won’t be much to chose from except your UJM, made in Korea or China.

  7. R.I.P. Buell. Unfortunately this is another victim of getting easy money by cutting-back and then outsourcing. The next step will be H.D. made in China. God save us!

  8. Wow he looks totally defeated on that video! :sigh
    I think it may have been wise to keep Buell and eliminate Harley Davidson. Those ol farts would buy up all teh HD’s in a tizzy thinking they are gone forever adn will become collectors. Then… Once HD reorganized they could rise up like phonix adn start all over again forcing the ol farts to buy the new bikes too. :grin

  9. Just what Harley needs to do – make sure that no one under the age of 50 actually ever visits one of your dealerships…

    I finally bought a Buell Ulysses this past summer, and it’s the most invigorating bike I’ve ever owned… This is a sad day indeed.

    Hopefully Erik Buell will be able to salvage something out of this.

  10. So DMG totally angered the Japanese brands to get Buell more involved in racing and now Buell is out of business, Honda and Kawasaki are leaving. Good job boys.

  11. Harley plans to fill the space left by Buell in the showrooms with their exciting and innovative 2010 tee shirt,bandanna collection.
    RIP Buell

  12. I’ve often thought of Buell motorcycles, especially the earlier models, as examples of inspired, even brilliant, chassis design that were saddled with that unfortunate lump of a Sportster engine and questionable production quality. I guess it finally caught up with them. Whatever the cause, its sad to see them fail.

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