Harley-Davidson is planning to bring its first all-electric motorcycle to market by the summer of 2019.
Harley-Davidson, the celebrated big-capacity motorcycle manufacturer, accompanied its latest earnings call with an announcement that it is planning to make and market a new all-electric bike. The news comes four years after the company unveiled its LiveWire project, which has seen a number of prototypes presented already. Website Numerama reports that Harley-Davidson is expecting to launch the new model in around 18 months’ time, in the summer of 2019.
A new market
The announcement comes at a time when the electric motorcycle market is enjoying strong growth and is attracting more and more investors, prompting Harley-Davidson CEO Matt Levatich, to strike a confident note: “The EV motorcycle market is in its infancy today, but we believe premium Harley-Davidson electric motorcycles will help drive excitement and participation in the sport globally. As we expand our EV capabilities and commitment, we get even more excited about the role electric motorcycles will play in growing our business.”
The manufacturer is set to invest $25 million to $50 million a year in developing the LiveWire project.
Noiseless and green
The polar opposite of its noisy, fuel-guzzling legendary big sister, the future Harley will be environmentally friendly and anything but an attention seeker. Low on noise, the LiveWire prototypes have a top speed of a little over 150 kmh and a range of 96 kilometres on a fully charged battery. Yet while that level of performance is encouraging, it is still some way behind the competition, which is headed up by Zero Motorcycles.
Improving the range of the future Harley – which is still the motorbike of choice for anyone cruising North America’s long roads – poses a significant technical challenge, one that involves fitting a sufficiently powerful yet compact battery into a vehicle with a much smaller chassis than that of a car, without this detracting from the look of the bike.
A shift in focus for Harley-Davidson
Harley-Davidson sales have been mapping a downward course for several years now, and dropped 8.5% in 2017. The manufacturer is hoping to reverse that negative trend by reaching out to a younger and more environmentally aware customer.
Giving his approval to the strategy, Revival Motorcycles founder Alan Stulberg told Bloomberg: “My feeling is that it will be well-received by the public and new buyers, which Harley direly needs, but not by people who normally ride a Harley. It’s awesome. It’s necessary. The more people who enter that market, the better.”
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