Electric motorcycles have recently been gaining traction all over the world. Companies like Zero Motorcycles, BMW, and Energica have been working on electrifying motorcycles and scooters. Now, even Harley-Davidson is getting on board. The American company famous for its loud engines and powerful motorcycles is shifting gears and betting heavily on electric motorcycle technology.
Harley-Davidson has been manufacturing motorcycles for over a hundred years. Since 1903, the company has built a tribe of free-spirited motorcycle enthusiasts with a particular affinity for loud bikes. So what’s changed? Why go electric, and why now?
One of the reasons Harley-Davidson is veering into the world of electric vehicles may have to do with their sales. The company announced their official move towards an electric motorcycle model in a quarterly report that also explained that they have been going down a difficult path financially.
According to Harley-Davidson’s report, the company is closing a factory in Missouri which will curtail roughly 800 jobs. As of last year, sales in the United States have dropped by 8.5 percent while international retail sales were down 3.9 percent. To change its course, the Milwaukee-based company is looking to adapt to the changing market with high tech motorcycles which will hopefully add a spark to the company’s sales.
While recent developments may have nudged Harley-Davidson to make this leap, this isn't the first time the company has considered adding an electric model. In fact, before this decision, Harley-Davidson had been playing with the idea for the past four years. In 2014, they created the Livewire, an electric prototype that gained attention with its fast acceleration but didn't catch on because of its limited range.
Details about the new motorcycle’s specs have not been officially announced, but industry professionals anticipate the company will build off of their LiveWire model and perfect any flaws with technological advancements that have developed over the last few years.
According to CNN, Harley-Davidson spokesman, Michael Pflughoeft, believes this new model will be able to offer the quality and experience which the iconic brand is known for, saying, "It's going to be a no-excuses, exhilaration Harley-Davidson Motorcycle.”
While pricing for this new motorcycle has yet to be released, the bike is expected to be on the market within 18 months. Harley-Davidson’s Chief Financial Officer told Bloomberg that the company is optimistic about this new addition to its line and aims to be a leader in the electric motorcycle industry, noting, “Our brand stands for freedom and independence and personal freedom, and we think the brand is fundamentally sound.”
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