A symbol of liberty and power, Harley Davidson was founded in Milwaukee in 1903. After becoming the leading motorcycle manufacturer in the world in 1920, the brand has kept its iconic presence in the motorcycle culture, offering freedom and American-quality products to its riders for over a century. We are approaching the company’s 115th-year anniversary and the highway is looking a little rocky for the king of the road.
The company has seen continuous decline, with their last growth in sales reported in 2014’s financial report. The coming years showed a decline in sales of 1.3% in 2015, 1.6% in 2016 and a staggering 6.7% in 2017. And while us Harley enthusiasts would like to think this is a temporary issue, the truth is the company has been down-spiraling for some time. It seems HDI is having a hard time appealing to new riders.
Harley Davidson’s rumbling motorcycles are known for their powerful, loud, pricey and gas-eating nature. This makes it hard to compete in a market full of millennials in a struggling economy. New riders look for affordability and green technology, which is the opposite of what comes to mind when you hear the words “Harley Davidson”. And now that baby boomers are getting too old to ride, Harley needs to plan ahead and cater to the needs of new generations.
The company has introduced its Street 500 and 750 “learner bikes” in the recent past, but it seems that hasn’t been enough to sway riders from the Japanese giants. What’s next? Apparently an electric motorcycle!
In their last earnings call, Harley Davidson states part of their plan for the future includes investing into electric motorcycles. They emphasize Project LiveWire, an electric motorcycle they have been working on for about 4 years, and mention they are getting ready to finally launch a fully electric bike within 18 months.
Not much else is mentioned, but we assume the new electric vehicle will be somewhat based on Project LiveWire. This bike was able to go from 0-60 mph in 4 seconds, with battery life reaching about 55 miles on a full charge… in economy mode. This is not much to write home about, especially considering you can’t get too far from home on this bike. Don’t cross the option off just yet, though; let’s keep in mind the LiveWire uses 4-year-old technology, in an industry that is moving really fast, with a model that is not meant for production. We expect an upgrade for Harley’s first electric motorcycle to reach the production lines.
Want to learn more about the LiveWire? Here is a report from The Verge that will give you the rundown.
Will this move help keep Harley Davidson on the road? If they can properly cater to the masses with an eco-friendly modern electric bike line, while still giving more traditional options to us old-school riders — then yes. The way I envision it, traditional riders will continue wasting gas and making loud noises for neighbors to complain about, while others could be zipping through roads in electric motorcycles and smaller Street models. At the end of the day, we would all be riding Harley, a brand that has grown with this country and none of us would like to see go away.
For now we know very little about what to expect in terms of price, range, performance, or design. But we are certainly intrigued. Until we hear more, do hit the comments and let us know if you would like riding an electric Harley Davidson bike. As for me? I’ll stick to my iron horse.