- Harley-Davidson has declared that the future is electric – and it’s quickly scaling up a pipeline of electric bikes.
- Two new concepts unveiled last week at the X Games in Colorado wouldn’t require a motorcycle licence and could be charged with a normal wall plug, the company says.
- Courting new riders, including city dwellers and millennials, is key to the company’s turnaround plans.
Harley-Davidson is one of the most famous American brands, but it’s in bad need of a reinvention.
The motorcycle icon has seen four straight years of declining sales for its flagship two-wheelers. And though the company is in first innings of a four-year revitalization plan, steep tariffs from President Donald Trump’s ongoing trade war with China almost wiped out its profit for the final quarter of 2018.
Change is coming.
At the X Games in Aspen, Colorado, last week, Harley unveiled the latest concepts for its line of electric vehicles that it hopes will help recruit new riders to the 116-year-old brand.
“The future has arrived. And it’s electric,” Harley-Davidson said.
The first of the two new scooters has no clutch (goodbye, shifting) and is designed to not require a motorcycle licence, should it come to market sometime soon.
The bike’s battery pack can be removed by hand, making it easier to move and charge, the company says, adding that it can be charged through any standard household power outlet.
The second of the two concepts looks more like a mountain bike than an urban scooter.
Both models “embrace their electric powerplants” and “put raw emotion into the equation of the future” through unique designs, the company says.
Still, it won’t be easy for a few electric vehicles to turn the tides.
Harley said in its investor presentation outlining its “More Roads to Harley-Davidson” program that electric motorcycles aren’t expected to achieve cost parity with internal-combustion-engine motorcycles until 2030 at the earliest.
The company’s “immediate future is not looking any brighter,” David Beckel, an analyst at Bernstein, told clients last week of Harley’s 2018 financials.
LiveWire, Harley’s first fully electric motorcycle, is expected to be available by fall 2019 in North America and western Europe.
“Getting great at delivering urban riding experiences is something that we see the future needing us to do,” Marc McAllister, Harley-Davidson’s vice president of product portfolio, told Business Insider earlier this year.