Does Kawasaki  Own Harley-Davidson? Here Are The Facts

black Harley-Davidson motorcycle fuel tank

Kawasaki has not bought Harley-Davidson. There were rumors that Kawasaki would buy the company, but that never happened.

What Started the Rumor

Here is a copy of the April Fools’ joke that started the rumor that Kawasaki bought Harley-Davidson:

Japanese owned Kawasaki Motor Company LTD acquired Harley Davidson

Breaking News

Milwaukee, April 1, 2014 — Harley-Davidson, Inc. (HOG) has announced an agreement to be acquired by Japanese-owned Kawasaki Motor Company LTD today, Tuesday, April 1, 2014, for an undisclosed sum.  The public is invited to attend an audio webcast with Kevin Wardell, Chairman, President, Chief Executive Officer, and John Only, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Harley-Davidson, Inc., from 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM (Central Time).  A downloadable slide presentation will also be available as support to the webcast.

Commentary from the acquiring Company Kawasaki Motor Company LTD:

“This is a great day for motor-bicyclists all over the world.  Now you will all be able to say you own a Harley but pay much lower prices due to major cost savings of substituting plastic for the steel parts, a practice commonly known in our great Kawasaki/Harley Davidson facsimiles!  Non-Riders all over the world will still be able to buy closets full of ‘Harley Davidson apparel’ without actually needing to know how to ride a motorcycle.  In addition, we will send rider certificates upon request to anybody who would like to look as if they ride a motorcycle, and this will be stamped with the official seal of approval by Kawasaki Motor Company LTD readable via a Sturgis secret decoder ring.” – Kesuke Morita Miyagi – Chairman of Kawasaki Motor Company LTD (Source: https://beantownbaggers.net/2014/03/31/harley-davidson-acquired-by-japanese-owned-kawasaki-motor-company-ltd/)

So, Who Owns Harley-Davidson in the Present Time?

You don’t have to be a motorcycle enthusiast to know who and what Harley-Davidson is all about. It’s one of the most recognizable motorcycle brands, and they’ve been around since the early 20th century. Now, that’s a long time to build the brand, and that’s what Harley-Davidson did: make it until they become an icon. However, because of what’s the company has been through (surviving two world wars and several economic depressions) and ownership changes, it’s natural for people to wonder who owns the company. 

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Harley-Davidson is a corporation, precisely a public company, which implies that the firm has a different identity from its actual owners and is owned by shareholders of the public. Harley-Davidson is owned by several individuals (via its shareholders). By the end of 2021, the five largest shareholders will be Boston Partners Global Investors, The Vanguard Group, BlackRock Fund Advisors, H Partners Management, and Beutel, Goodman & Co. Boston Partners Global Investors is the largest shareholder, with a stake of around 12%. Each organization has hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Harley-Davidson stock, even though their shares are traded at a different volume than one another. Harley-Davidson has a total market valuation of around 6 billion US dollars, only for the information.

Who is Harley-Davidson? 

In 1901, William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson worked on a motor-bicycle. The prototype had significant flaws, but their experience’s learning jumpstarted their motorcycle manufacturing venture. By the 1920s, Harley-Davidson became the biggest company of its kind in the world. However, such success did not spare them from the Great Depression. In 1929, their recorded sale was 21,000; by 1933, it was just 3,703. Like many other companies, Harley-Davidson weathered the storm and started to rise again. Then, the second World War hit. The company went through good and bad times. However, it was still standing after nearly two centuries; this says a lot about the company’s resiliency. Part of their secret wasn’t just to focus on motorcycles but to produce other products such as apparel, accessories, toys, and even home decor. Such is the power of Harley-Davidson as a company and as a brand. 

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Change of Hands

Harley-Davidson has had several ownership changes in the past. Here is a quick timeline:

The founders originally owned the company. The founder’s families eventually owned it. 

1965 – Harley-Davidson went public but was looking for a merger or bought out shortly after. 

1969 – It merged with American Machine and Foundry (AMF). This company struggled in the 1970s until the 1980s due to old facilities, quality control issues, and a varying line of products that they found hard to manage. Eventually, they sold all their assets and went defunct in 1985, a move that allowed Harley-Davidson to survive through the 70s and 80s. 

Kawasaki reportedly purchased Harley-Davidson, according to popular belief. People should know that that story started as an April Fools’ joke that has reached a surprising number of people and survived for an incredible amount of time.

Currently, Harley-Davidson is a publicly-traded company, meaning it’s not beholden to anyone except its stockholders. 

Going Strong in 2022

In January this year, Harley Davidson released eight new bikes powered by its factory-stock engine, the Milwaukee Eight 117. These new models are Street Glide ST, Road Glide ST, Low Ride S, Low Rider ST, and four bikes in Harley’s Custom Vehicle Operations. The features include heated seats and handgrips, electronically linked brakes, cornering traction control, a BlueTooth helmet headset, and an infotainments system with a color touch screen and activation. According to the company news release, Harley-Davidson’s new motorcycle, the Milwaukee 117, took its designs from the 1980s and gave them a new identity with the Milwaukee 117 engine, a taller suspension, and raised saddlebags.

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Conclusion

The truth is that Harley-Davidson is a survivor. Harley-Davidson has a history of returning from tough times and making it through the 90s and 2000s.

Harley-Davidson is a leader in the motorbike industry. The company is a legend and has become a powerful brand with a long history of innovation and a reputation for building the best motorcycles in the world. As the market leader in the United States, Harley-Davidson has a huge fan base. The company has seen its share of ups and downs but has always come back stronger.