Harley-Davidson LiveWire: Watch the Iconic Maker's First All-Electric Hog
The sun may have finally set on the era of Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone riding their gas-guzzling choppers into the horizon. Now, drifting Tesla electric vehicles and battery-powered bicycles are what the internet is obsessing over. And iconic American motorcycle manufacturer, Harley-Davidson has taken note.
Thursday, it unveiled its first full-electric motorcycle, LiveWire, which will be commercially available starting in August 2019. A price has yet to be announced but Harley-Davidson rep Jennifer Hoyer tells Inverse that the company is going all-in on EVs to appeal to a wider consumer base.
“This is the first of many,” stated Hoyer. “We will continue to build an EV portfolio of motorcycles in the future. LiveWire is really meant for an urban customer and our research has shown it’ll appeal to a younger audience as well as more females.”
These are both crucial demographics Harley needs to reach to turn the tide of what has been four straight years of declining sales. Motorcycle owners have primarily consisted of older men for many years. In 2003, a Bureau of Transportation Statistics survey found that 92 percent of American motorbike riders were men and 53 percent out the total were 40 or older.
To be fair, among this aging, dude-heavy demographic, Harley’s hogs reign supreme. In fact, they have still cornered roughly half the market, according to a market analysis by Grand View Research.
These tough numbers bely the fact that motorcycle ownership is actually on the rise. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported that ownership jumped from 4.2 million in 2002 to 8.4 million in 2017, a growing segment of which is includes way more women. Approximately 14 percent of the country’s motorcycle owners were women as of 2014, according to a Motorcycle Industry Council report. Harley thinks that by going fully electric, it can help increase that number even more.
Women with higher education were also found to be an untapped market for electric vehicles by a University of Sussex study, and the same is true for people under the age of 35. A 2018 Automobile Association survey found that about half of this younger demographic want EVs. So can Harley rebound sales by appealing to these growing markets?
Doing so will likely require a bit of a culture shift. After all, replacing the combustion engine with one that’s fully electric is sure to put a dent in the iconic Harley Davidson rumble. Then again, the LiveWire is also likely to be much easier to ride than other motorcycles. For example, engineers only included one gear, so riders don’t have to switch between speeds.
Will this change in aesthetic compliment the change in motorcycle riding demographics? We may get an answer as soon as 2019, when the LiveWire’s are projected to start hitting city streets.