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BMW sales up, Harley slides in 2023

The rivalry between these two iconic motorcycle makers—one based in the United States, the other in Germany—continues to heat up as BMW appears to have outsold Harley for the second year running, at least based on figures through the third quarter of 2023.

BMW Motorrad issued a press release in mid-January 2024 touting their 2023 sales figures, which reached 209,257 units, the best sales year in the history of the marque and a jump of 3.1% over 2022’s numbers.

Harley’s Q3-2023 report brought their sales total for the year at that point to 150,400. Averaging their sales figures from the first three quarters of 2023 to extrapolate an expectation for Q4, Harley might have sold about 50,000 additional motorcycles in the remainder of 2023, but that’s a generous estimate, as motorcycle sales traditionally taper off in Q4 as the riding season comes to an end in much of the United States and almost all of Canada. Using that estimate would bring their total for the year to 200,500, almost 9,000 fewer units worldwide that BMW; a narrower margin than in 2022, but still significant. Given Harley’s dismal 2022, most industry analysts wouldn’t expect Harley to sell 50,000 bikes in Q4-2023. Livewire sales are a tiny footnote in Harley’s sales, with just 146 of the electric bikes sold through Q3-2023, indicating a dropoff of about 80% compared to 2022’s numbers.

More important than the hard numbers here is the trend over time. BMW’s sales have increased year-over-year going all the way back to 2011, with the exception of a drop from 2019 to 2020. BMW sold nearly twice as many motorcycles in 2022 as they did in 2011 (202,895 vs. 104,286). Harley has seen their sales decrease year-over-year since 2017 other than a small rise from 2020 to 2021. Despite this shift in global power between the two manufacturers, Harley continues to dominate the North American market, selling over 60% of their output in the United States and Canada, while BMW sells only about 7-8% of its bikes in North America.

Germany remains BMW’s #1 market, with about 12% of their annual sales (24,176) happening there. Close behind is France (21,668), then Italy (16,179). The US market suffered a slight drop year-over-year, falling from 17,690 sales in 2022 to 17,017 in 2023, making the US BMW’s #3 market for the second straight year. Sales were up in China, India, Brazil and Mexico.

BMW’s leading models remained the GS bikes, with about 56,000 R 1250 GS/GSA bikes sold, plus 4,528 R 1300 GS and 11,064 F 750 GS. BMW sold 25,194 S bikes, including 11,442 S 1000 RR supersports and 3,655 M 1000 R hyper roadsters. Over 62,800 of the BMWs sold worldwide in 2023 were F and G bikes, showing BMW’s growing strength in the middleweight segments. BMW also sold 20,460 scooters, including 7,177 of the all-electric CE 04.

BMW AG is expected to release its 2023 annual report in mid-March 2024.

4 thoughts on “BMW sales up, Harley slides in 2023

  • Please stop with the Harley bashing. More BMW sales, great, but having more Harley sales would be good too. We’re all motorcyclists.

    • Reporting facts and identifying trends is not bashing. I’ve got nothing against Harley, but nobody can deny their numbers are sliding.

    • For sure. Keep people working and their family fed.

  • Sure wish the BMW Motorcycle dealer network in the US would expand.

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