×

People want to feel alive: Harley-Davidson CEO

The trend of middle-aged men spending large amounts of cash on fast cars and big bikes isn't likely to end, Matt Levatich, the president and CEO of motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson told CNBC.

Speaking to CNBC's Squawk Box, Levatich disagreed with the suggestion that the market for luxury vehicles was drying up, but was instead just a sensible reaction to volatility in world markets.

"I think people are pulling back. There's uncertainty in the global economy," Levatich told CNBC. "Fundamentally, people want to live. People want to discover the things they knew, when they were young, made them feel alive.

"They've got more money, they've got more time and they want to live."


The 2015 Harley-Davidson Road Glide.
Source: Harley-Davidson
The 2015 Harley-Davidson Road Glide.

Last week, the company reported its full-year results, showing earnings per share dropped 4.9 percent to $3.69. Sales worldwide were down 1.3 percent and net income fell from $844.6 million in 2014 to $752.2 million in 2015.

Levatich blamed the weak results on the rising strength of the dollar last year.

"We were hit really hard with currency," he told CNBC. "Ninety-five percent of the competition in the United States is foreign denominated currency so that swing in the currency gave our competitors a huge advantage on our home turf.

"When the currency hit, all those international sales came back a little less profitable than they were the prior year," he added. "It was a tough year."

Follow CNBC International on Twitter and Facebook.