Harley-Davidson has confirmed plans to launch its first electric motorbike next year.
The US brand, famed for its thunderous gas-guzzling choppers, has revealed the launch date of its long-anticipated electric bike, known as LiveWire.
The electric motorbike will launch in 2019 — some four years after a prototype for the vehicle was driven by Scarlett Johansson’s character Back Widow in the 2015 Marvel blockbuster The Avengers.
Details of the performance and price of the electric bike have yet to be released.
The announcement comes as part of a new business model for the Milwaukee-based company, which is looking to engage with a wider range of customers as demand dwindles for its iconic petrol-hungry bikes.
This prototype model of Harley-Davidson’s electric motorcycle, LiveWire, the first in a broad, no-clutch ‘twist and go’ portfolio of electric two-wheelers. Harley will roll-out the electric motorcycle next year
The electric motorbike will launch in 2019 — some four years after a prototype for the vehicle was driven by Scarlett Johansson’s character Back Widow in the 2015 Marvel blockbuster The Avengers (pictured)
Harley-Davidson is facing shrinking sales in its home market of the United States, and is hoping to broaden its appeal to new customers in a bid to invigorate sales.
‘Alongside our existing loyal riders, we will lead the next revolution of two-wheeled freedom to inspire future riders who have yet to even think about the thrill of riding,’ Harley-Davidson CEO Matt Levatich said in a statement.
Famed for its roaring engines, Harley-Davidson’s LiveWire will have no clutch or gears. This decision was made as part of the US company’s goal to make motorcycle-riding accessible to a wider range of people.
The company said LiveWire will be followed by more ‘twist and go’ electric two-wheelers over the next few years, with lighter and smaller models already planned.
Samantha Kay, a Milwaukee resident who recently learnt to ride a motorcycle for the first time, said she doesn’t picture electric motorcycles when she thinks of Harley-Davidson, but she welcomed news of the LiveWire.
‘I would be more inclined to buy it than I would a traditional motorcycle,’ said Ms Kay, 25, adding that she rode a moped in high school and college and thinks the smaller, electric models would be easier to navigate in the city.
Harley-Davidson, known for its car-alarm triggering engine rumble, said LiveWire will have no clutch and no gears. This forms part of the company’s goal to make motorcycle-riding accessible to more people
Harley-Davidson has seen a recent surge in sales in Asia and India.
To appeal to this growing market, the company said it will develop smaller bikes with 250 to 500 cubic-centimetre engines designed to be more accessible in those regions. Harley-Davidson will also open smaller storefronts in urban areas.
Although it is looking to embrace new avenues for revenue, Harley-Davidson is not turning its back completely on its roots.
Details of the performance and price of the electric bike have yet to be released. The Milwaukee-based company is looking to engage with a wider range of customers as demand dwindles for its iconic petrol-hungry bikes
The iconic American motorcycle company revealed it faced dwindling sales in its home market and that it would be rolling out some new products, and stores, to broaden its audience and hopefully, invigorate sales (file photo)
The company said it has no plans to pull-back on manufacturing its larger bikes.
It claims the latest round of products will include the technology-advanced Touring and Cruiser motorcycle as well.
In all, Harley-Davidson said it plans to release 100 new motorcycles over the next 10 years. During that time, the company wants to gain 2 million new riders to reverse declining sales.
According to Robert Pandya, who managed public relations for Indian Motorcycles and Victory Motorcycles, the new line-up from Harley-Davidson is hugely appealing to new customers and ‘will be incredibly approachable to many, many people.’
Last year Pandya launched ‘Give A Shift,’ a volunteer group discussing ideas to promote motorcycling.
‘It can fit into your life a lot easier,’ he said of the new all-electric Harley-Davidson models. ‘It might bypass licensing requirements in certain states, which is a real game-changer.’
The latest research shows a decline in the average age of motorcyclists, with the Motorcycle Industry Council finding the median age of US motorcycle owners increased from 32 to 47 since 1990.
About 46 per cent of riders are over 50 and only about 10 per cent are 30-34.
Harley-Davidson has also come in for heavy criticism from US President Donald Trump.
The businessman criticised the company’s decision to move production of motorcycles sold in Europe overseas in order to avoid EU tariffs against American exports.
US sales slid 6.4 per cent in the most recent quarter, and they’re down 8.7 per cent at the halfway point of the year.
Sales in Canada fell 0.5 per cent over the past 3 months, and are down 4.9 per cent over the past six months.
WHAT IS HARLEY-DAVIDSON?
Harley-Davidson is a US firm that specialises in the manufacture of motorcycles.
It was founded in 1903 and is based in Milwaukee, US.
It is the only US motorcycle brand, along with Triumph, to survive The Great Depression.
The company is now one of the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturers and an iconic brand widely known for its devoted following.
There are owner clubs and events worldwide as well as a company-sponsored brand-focused museum.
It has traditionally always made its bikes in the US, but has recently announced it will manufacture bikes destined for Europe outside of the states to avoid EU tariffs against American imports.
The brand has a reputation for making large engined motrocycles built for cruising comfortably at high speed.