Harley-Davidson Motor Company representatives have confirmed they are increasing their investment in developing electric motorcycles. In fact, the company has claimed it is on target to launch their electronic motorcycle line within 18 months.
You may remember Harley unveiled their public prototype of an all-electric bike, “Project Livewire”, in 2014. Over the next 12 months a fleet of these bikes toured the U.S. offering the public a chance to see and even ride them. Representatives claimed the response to the bike was so overwhelmingly positive they immediately began developing a viable production bike using this platform.
Initially, the biggest obstacle Harley faced was limited battery life. The company began working to find a practical battery and re-charging system that would allow riders to take the bikes further then 20-25 miles on a single charge. Partnering with cell phone battery pioneer Motorola, among others, the company focused on solving this problem and apparently has.
The 18 month plan was released as part of Harley-Davidson’s 2017 Earnings Report. Following a third straight year of declining US Sales and profitability, Harley-Davidson is no doubt hoping the electric motorcycle will draw in both current and new riders and give the company a world-wide buzz it hasn’t had in quite some time.
I’m carefully optimistic about a Livewire line. While it’s exciting that Harley could soon captivate a global audience of riders and non-riders alike, I’m also mindful the bike must perform exceptionally well to be viewed as more then just a publicity stunt. The roll out must be well timed and executed by both Harley-Davidson and their dealers as they will have to deliver both a premium product and experience to go along with it.
Regardless of how the bike performs or sells, this is an exciting development for Harley-Davidson. It could provide the company a much needed nudge in the right direction by creating a new image, customer base, and global imprint with a single product. Some thing difficult for any company to accomplish, let alone a company already steeped in 115 years of heritage and tradition.