With American motorcycle sales dropping 50% in the past 10 years, and Millenials more interested in swiping left than twisting a throttle, how will Harley-Davidson survive? They’ve opened a plant in India, and have designed a line of smaller V-twins intended to appeal to women, urban riders, and foreign markets. Now it seems they’re doubling down on their Livewire electric motorcycle program, hoping a spot as a premium e-Moto brand will secure a new generation of fans.At their recent press announcement, Harley-Davidson CEO Matt Levatich announced the Motor Co. will ‘invest more aggressively in electric technology for premium motorcycles…you’ve heard us talk about project Livewire…it’s an active project we’re preparing to bring to market within 18 months.’
The Harley-Davidson team embarked on the Livewire project 6 years ago, gambling that battery technology would develop quickly enough to give their design the range and power it would need to compete head-on with traditional dinosaur-juice motorcycles. A new generation of ultra-compact, ultra-powerful batteries still hasn’t emerged, but the e-Bike market is expected to expand 45% by 2020, as opposed to a continuing slide for Internal-Combustion (IC) motorcycle sales. Harley-Davidson announced an 11% drop in their sales in the last quarter of 2017, and closed their Kansas City plant. H-D CFO John Olin said they will invest $25-50Million per year to develop their electric motorcycle technology, with the goal of dominance in the premium e-Moto market.