Harley Hopes Hog Heaven Rentals Lead to Sales

Harley-Davidson is betting a rented ride on one of its motorcycles will hook people into buying.

The iconic motorcycle maker is hoping it growing rental program will help boost flat domestic sales.

The program has ballooned since starting six years ago. It's gone from six participating dealerships to 250, including 52 in countries such as France, Italy, Canada, Costa Rica, Australia and Mexico. The motorcycle maker plans to add 20 to 30 participating outlets a year.

The number of days the motorcycles were rented shot up from 401 in 1999 to a worldwide total of about 224,000 last year.

Harley-Davidson says 32 percent of rental customers they surveyed bought a bike or placed an order after renting, and another 37 percent planned to buy one within a year. About half the renters spent more than $100 on Harley accessories such as T-shirts and gloves.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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