I can't agree with you more Stu. To further complicate things, here is how I see it:
The previous CEO had a great vision for the company. The prototypes and new models they have coming down the chute are fantastic. The biggest error as I see it with those bikes is that I wait on bated breadth to see the price the will sell for and once they release that number, I am constantly disappointed. The Livewire ticks all the boxes for me. Looks good, good riding position and lots and lots of power. My only caveat is it's an automatic but when it can do 0-60 in under 3 seconds, I can get over it. They priced it at $30k so only a few will actually ever buy one or get a chance to ride it. They call it a halo product and promise to release more affordable electric models down the road, so time will tell what that means.
They designed a new motor based on the old V Rod engine and have been teasing it in new designs like the Pan America and Bronx. Still waiting on a price but all of these models look fantastic.
They also have been teasing small electric bikes and even a scooter that looks great so clearly they have been working hard to diversify their product line up. Hopefully they deliver this stuff at a price that a normal human can stomach.
The other major hurdle is the dealer network. Obviously they are independently owned and have the right to do whatever they want but what they want does not align with what the MoCo wants. They want to continue selling $30k+ baggers to rich people, they just want to sell more of them. They are resisting the long term vision of the company and vocalizing their concerns constantly. People love to blame the MoCo for Buell's demise and although there us no question that they shoulder some of that blame, it was the dealers that treated Buell like the red headed step child and relegated them to the farthest corners of the showroom. What Harley should have done was allow non-HD dealers to sell Buell as any other type of dealer would have given the brand the respect it deserved and sold it proudly alongside their Italian and Japanese cohorts.
The dealers are doing the same thing with the Harley Street and Streetrod models right now and will do it to the Pan America, Bronx and anything else that's not a $30k+ bagger. They have been doing it to the Sportster for years as well. If you come in looking for any of these bikes, they will try and talk you out of them. They call them learner bikes and promise you'll be back in a year to get a real bike if you buy one.
The MoCo should just stop selling these bikes in their current dealer network and start opening new franchises. They can let the old guard die while they clutch their baggers and rich boomer customers to their shriveled hearts.
So fast forward to firing the prior CEO. The new strategy is to focus on their core strengths (selling $30k baggers to boomers) and to shed any of the vision that the prior CEO had for the future. It's too late to pull the plug on the Livewire, Bronx and Pan America so they will happen but they will be quietly swept into the corner of showrooms after they feign a big release. I'm sure they will be priced prohibitively as well so when everything shakes out they can say "we tried that but it didn't work".
So to answer your question, they were on the right track but not anymore.