Harley-Davidson CEO Matthew Levatich brought mixed tidings with him to the H-D Group earnings report held at the end of January. A surprise announcement by Mr. Levatich was that the company would come up with a production electric motorcycle in eighteen months.
The Bar & Shield brand is in a downsizing situation currently and is closing down its Kansas City factory, while consolidating operations at its York, Pennsylvania facility. There was also good news in the overall report, amidst bad tidings. Harley-Davidson has announced it will make its first production electric motorcycle in eighteen months!
H-D is not new to electric motorcycles for the company has developed an e-bike prototype in the past. Its name is LiveWire, and it was developed in collaboration with the now defunct Mission Motors. The LiveWire was a means to gauge public reaction on Harley going electric, based on limited test rides. The company got a positive response from the exercise and the LiveWire project was given the green light. Now finally we have a timeline on when the electric Harley-Davidson will hit the streets.
Now that Mission Motors is no longer active, it will be interesting to observe what steps H-D plans to take to bring the LiveWire to life. Will the company develop the battery tech in-house? It could enter a joint venture with an established firm that already has the tech. Or it could simply use off-the-shelf parts to build the bike. The option the American company chooses will help gauge how serious it is with its future in the electric motorcycle industry.
Interestingly again, Harley-Davidson is one of the very few major manufacturers to commit to a production electric motorcycle. KTM being foremost an Enduro and MX maker already has e-MX production bikes in its range. BMW Motorrad has an electric scooter to offer. There has been not much news on the Japanese front regarding electric motorcycles. Ducati will likely introduce an electric motorcycle as part of holding company VW Group’s Roadmap E initiative.