Sean Cummings is senior vice president of global demand for Harley Davidson. That means his job is to accurately predict the future so the company has the right products on offer at the right time. He told the Milwaukee Business Journal this week that Harley Davidson will produce an electric motorcycle within five years.
Harley Davidson excited the world of motorcycles 2 years ago when it created its LiveWire electric motorcycle and sent it on a tour of the US to judge people’s reaction. Those who rode the concept bike loved it, but Harley owners are traditionalists in a way that is unusual. For them, a motorcycle has to look and sound a particular way. Loud is better in Harleyland. The $50,000 list price wasn’t all that appealing, either.
Several years ago, Harley Davidson introduced the V Rod, a thoroughly modern rethink of the traditional V twin theme. It featured an overhead cam shaft, 8 valve engine developed in cooperation with Porsche. Most testers reported it was a superb motorcycle, but few people bought one. More than anything else, the V Rod just didn’t sound right.
It had none of that classic “potato, potato, potato, potato” sound at stop lights. And when you fitted it with shotgun pipes, it wasn’t loud enough to wake the dead at wide open throttle. Buyers sniffed around it, but most opted for traditional Harley Davidson machines. The V Rod was a sales disaster.
Harley has a problem, though. The average age of its customers is rapidly trending toward Buick territory. It desperately needs to attract younger buyers who aren’t yet ready for Social Security. And it has to be aware that attitudes toward electric motorcycles are changing.
Victory Motorcycles is grabbing headlines for its electric Isle of Man and Pikes Peak racers. Energica has two electric road bikes on sale. Zero Motorcycles has an array of electric models available. Harley has to get with the electric motorcycle program or risk being left behind.
Apparently, it has decided a business case exists for an electric motorcycle with the HD logo on its flanks. Two years ago, such a thing was the stuff of fantasy. Today, it seems inevitable. The change in attitudes in the marketplace is accelerating faster than most believed possible when the LiveWire was unveiled in 2014.
Source: Asphalt and Rubber Image credit: Harley Davidson