Harley-Davidson Inc. is preparing to test a product that may turn out to be the ultimate in environmentally friendly transportation: a green hog.
The 111-year-old motorcycle manufacturer said last week it is launching Project LiveWire, a specially designed series of test drives designed as a way for the company to get “insight into the rider expectations of an electric Harley-Davidson motorcycle.” A 2014 US tour will kick off with a journey down Route 66, with select consumers driving prototype vehicles.
Click on the Harley below to start the slideshow:
Harley-Davidson will test its prototype electric motorcycles in a US tour down Route 66. (Source: Harley-Davidson)
In a press release, company executives said that the great outdoors are an integral part of motorcycle riding, and that sustainability is a core strategic focus for Harley-Davidson. “Preserving the riding environment is important to all of us,” noted Matt Levatich, president and chief operating officer of the company.
Although Harley-Davidson has released photos and videos of the electric motorcycle,
details have been scarce. It's rumored to have a 100-mile range, is 75 HP, and recharges in three hours. Calls from Design News for verification were not returned in time for this story.
News reports have indicated that the project is part of an effort by Harley-Davidson to expand beyond its white male baby-boomer audience and target a newer, younger, and more female demographic.
Since range is still uncertain, it’s not clear whether a battery-powered motorcycle will be accepted by owners who use their motorcycles for cross-country rides. Similarly, it’s not known if riders will appreciate the replacement of the Harley’s full, throaty sound with the higher-pitched noise of an electric motor (hear the electric motorcycle in the video below).
Harley enthusiasts who published their feelings on social media were upbeat about the announcement, with most begging for the US tour to pass through their states. “Any chance @harleydavidson is bringing their #projectlivewire and their #electric motorcycle to Hawaii?” pleaded a female mathematician over Twitter last week.
The most insightful comment, however, may have come from an apparent Harley enthusiast who took a larger view of the news. “Harley Davidson announced their first electric motorcycle,” tweeted Harley fan, CyberShack. “Makes me want to have a mid-life crisis.”
HD is doing a magnificent thing by introducing the electric motorcycle. This will be a big step in expanding it market niche to a younger group, meaning more buyers and more profits. This will definitely improve things for HD and help make their products more marketable than they have been all those years. This technology not only boosts technological growth it helps in preservation of the environment since the machine is environmental friendly. No pollution occurs.
Yes, and Harley decided a while back that they just couldn't afford to sell any more Buell's in a slow market, so they shut that production line down and deep-sixed the brand name. But look at these new 500's & 750's they suddenly brought out! I don't know, maybe Harley can finally multitask totally differnt bike markets. They have been making a few smart decisions in the last 20 years. Their bikes finally don't leak oil right off the showroom floor for example. Credit that to Harley finally admitting they need to hire an engineer to design gaskets & o-ring seals. Harley's biggest problem is their own fans. The electric bike looks like it works very well, but personally I would like to see a lot less weight and minimal techno-wizardry. The touch-screen dashboard isn't really what I would want on a bike. I'd rather have some digital air-core driven gauges with real indicator needles that you can see no matter how brightly the sun shines. - nitpicking, I know...
Nadine, my point was not innovation - just that they do have the ability to change which some companies are unable to do. Being able to follow this trend and others are what may make them able to survive as a company as their original niche audience gets older and smaller.
For anyone that may be wondering what some of our fellow posters are talking about who have not heard one: Harley Sound
It is quite iconic and while for many of us it does not sound pleasant - to many an HD afficiando it is music to their ears. The electric hog is in a completely different class with a different target audience. It may mean the survival of HD in the future since it shows they are able to break old paradigms and move with the times.
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