Harley-Davidson to shut down Buell, MV Augusta Brands, finally

As it continues to struggle with its sputtering performance, Harley-Davidson (NYSE:HOG) announced two long-overdue steps aimed at returning the company to the halcyon days of two years ago: Shutting down its Buell line and selling off the legendary high-performance brand MV Augusta. The moves will cost the company millions, but will allow it to refocus on its core business, the cruiser bike market.

Buell represented the company's foremost attempt to break out of the cruiser mold. Harley bought the name and product of inventor Erik Buell in 2003 with the hope of breaking into new markets, including sport (high performance) and standard bikes. However, a lack of acceptance by the company's dealer network and inadequate investment in building the brand kept Buell from finding any real traction. According to CFO John Olin, the Buell brand is not accounted for separately on the Harley-Davidson books, and therefore the company has chosen to kill it rather than sell it off. Another explanation might be that the brand has little to no value.