When Harley Davidson announced the closure of the Kansas City manufacturing plant, they also gave notice that Project LiveWire would be coming to market in 18 months. LiveWire, the new Harley Davidson electric motorcycle, is a corporate moonshot, they're going for the high tech end of the motorcycle industry, a decidedly different environment from that occupied by the big twin cruisers that make up the rest of their product line. As the mainstay of the Motor Company's customer base continues to age out of the market, they need to attract younger buyers. Will LiveWire be the key?
Harley-Davidson remains fully committed to investing in product development to inspire new riders through redefining its product in traditional spaces and expanding into new spaces. The company is on target to launch its first electric motorcycle within 18 months. Today, the company announces it will invest more aggressively to lead in the application of electric motorcycle technology to inspire ridership among a new audience.
"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," stated Levatich. "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 company's options are limited. With motorcycle sales down overall and Harley's market down even more, how can they get back into the game? This is a bold move and it could work. Putting a big brand name on an electric motorcycle might help sales, but will these find a place in a garage next to an Electra Glide or Softail or will they be the ride of choice of riders who never considered a Harley at all?
Electric motorcycles are still a niche market and they're the kind of product many riders will have to be convinced makes sense. The actual performance of one of these bikes will likely be far beyond the typical Harley Davidson though the usual range and recharge time questions remain. It will be a sort of high performance commuter instead of a weekend cruiser so maybe it does have a place next to that Softail after all. This will be a very interesting introduction and I truly hope it is well received and a market success. Harley has been with us for a very long time and I hope it regains its footing and is with us far into the future, whether electric or not.