Is there another bike manufacturer as linked to the past as Harley Davidson? Their brand is all about history and heritage, and their bikes are big bruising gas-guzzlers that have never been economical. It’s a brand that’s as American as Jack Daniels. Both brands trade on their roots yet Harley’s top management have clearly made a decision to modernise the firm. They are in the middle of constructing a new plant in Thailand that will significantly reduce the cost of building a Harley so bikes which were built out of the now closed Kansas City plant will more profitable than ever thanks to lower labour rates in southeast Asia, and they’ve announced the arrival of the firm’s first electric bike.
The classic Harley motor is a V-twin with 45-degree angle between cylinders. The design is covered under several US patents because it’s an important part of the allure of a Harley. Harley riders get high-torque from a small space and they enjoy the choppy sound from the engine that’s a massive part of the experience of owning and riding a Harley. What will customers think in August 2019 when Harley’s first electric bike arrives but makes no sound?
Harley only introduced Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) in 1995. Fuel injection has been used in car engines since the late 1970s so Harley didn’t get on board that motoring revolution for close to two decades. Electric motorbikes have been around since the turn of the 20th century but they were commercially appealing for manufacturers until recently. China buys the most e-bikes but the market across the rest of the world is growing so quickly that according to Statista.com, 40 million e-bikes will have been sold globally. China will remain the highest market with close to 90 percent of all sales but that still leaves 6 million e-bikes for the rest of the world to enjoy. How many of the 6 million customers will opt for the new Harley LiveWire?