Harley Davidson and electric motorcycles: an uncertain future

Harley Davidson and electric motorcycles: what will the future be? It looked like the first electric Harley Davidson was doing good but, maybe, things are not as bright as we all thought.

Harley Davidson first change of direction: a new CEO

The biggest changes for the Milwaukee based company started last year when, between February and March, Matthew “Matt” Levatich resigned as company CEO.

Jochen Zeitz, co-founder and co-president of The B Team, took his place behind the company handlebars.

A change in leadership dictated by the brand sales negative trend and by an incredible stock dive: the company stocks dropped by 46%.

Donald Trump – President of the United States of Amerca at the time – international politics did not help: the tycoon did not like the fact that Harley Davidson moved part of his production to Asia, therefore, decided to increase custom fees on imported goods.

Produce less to obtain more: Zeitz decision

Going an opposite direction from its predecessor plans – Levatich announced the launch of 100 models in 10 years – Zeitz has decided to be more cautious: rearrange some lines and suppress others in order to avoid a surplus of costs and resources.

Levatich, ex Company CEO, plan was to expand and explore new segments: smaller engine motorcycles produced in Asia, electric motorcycles, urban and adventure bikes.

The new CEO, instead, has a 30% segment cut starting from adventure bikes.

Harley Davidson LiveWire
The Harley Davidson LiveWire is an incredible motorcycle (source: Motomotorionline.com)

Cuts as a policy and the “Bronx” sacrifice

The choice of cutting the 30% of every segment led to the sacrifice of the Harley Davidson Bronx, a streetfighter that may never see the light.

It was presented with the Pan America 1250 with the aim of riding on the streets of countries all over the world by the end of 2020 but, the company first postponed it to 2021 and then we will probably assist to a goodbye to a model that has never left its Milwaukee garage.

Electric motorcycles: what will their future be?

The eyes of the motorcycle world are all pointed on the electric models of the Milwaukee based company: will the electric project suffer from the cuts too?

At the moment the sales look encouraging: matter of fact, LiveWire is the best selling electric motorcycle in the USA.

This model, on the marked since 2019 and with an initial tree years expansion plan, has absolutely nothing to envy to its petrol sisters: it is considered the Tesla of motorcycles.

Aesthetically, in terms of dimensions and design, it recalls the Sportster XR and it does not stop there: the aluminum covered charging port is located where there is usually possible to find the fuel filler.

The engine – that here also includes a battery pack – is at the center of everything, as happens for every other Harley Davidson model.

The beating heart of this motorcycle is an high voltage battery: a 15.5 kWh Rechargeable Energy Storage System (RESS) to be more precise; its body, made in aluminum, stores the Li-Ion cells that grant an outstanding 143 miles of city and 95 miles of combined range.

Cool thing: petrol model are recalled by the cooling fins.

A 12 volt Li-Ion auxiliary battery grants power to the fob and for the motorcycle “ignition”.

Standard

Standard accessories on the LiveWire are actually pretty premium: the motorcycle is equipped with a thing called RDRS (Reflex Defensive Riding System): IMU central unit with a six-axis inertial platform, cornering ABS and traction control, torque adjustment system, and front and rear wheel lifting control.

Everything can be controlled by the rider on a touch screen cockpit that allows to choose between seven riding options: 4 presets (Road, Sport, Range, Rain) and 3 personalizable slots.

Last but not least, the engine.

Every Harley Davidson engine has a name so, LiveWire motor had to have a name too: Revelation.

With its 105 horsepower and a torque of 86ft-lb the LiveWire clocks a 0-60 in 3.1 seconds and a 0-110 in 11.54 seconds.

In conclusion: we will have to say goodbye to Harley Davidson electric motorcycle?

our answer is: we do not know yet.

We are left in this sea of uncertainties mainly because Harley Davidson itself does not know what they want to do with electric motorcycle yet.

Harley Davidson communication strategy, from now on, will be more cautious on future models: we can definitely forget about comments or declarations on models that are yet to be produced.

(italian version written in collaboration with Valerio Fiormonte)

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