It is fair to say that sales of Harley-Davidson’s LiveWire electric motorcycle have been underwhelming. With a high price of entry and rather limited scope in the eyes of traditional motorcyclists, the revolutionary Harley-Davidson has been a mixed bag in the eyes of consumers since its global launch in 2019.
Since the bike's local debut in late 2020, only 7 LiveWires have been registered for use on New Zealand roads according to stats from the Motor Industry Assosciation.
With that in mind, Harley-Davidson has announced the Milwaukee engineered electric offering is to separate from the Harley-Davidson brand and will become the headline product of its own all-electric Livewire brand with a focus on essentially becoming the Tesla of the motorcycle world.
“One of the six pillars of The Hardwire Strategy is to lead in electric – by launching LiveWire as an all-electric brand, we are seizing the opportunity to lead and define the market in EV,” says Harley-Davidson chairman, president and CEO, Jochen Zeitz.
“With the mission to be the most desirable electric motorcycle brand in the world, LiveWire will pioneer the future of motorcycling, for the pursuit of urban adventure and beyond. LiveWire also plans to innovate and develop technology that will be applicable to Harley-Davidson electric motorcycles in the future.”
The first LiveWire branded motorcycle, expected to be a rebadging of the existing Harley-Davidson LiveWire, is scheduled to launch on July 8, 2021 and will also premiere at the International Motorcycle Show on July 9, 2021.
The news that the electric motorcycle is being split from the conventional Harley-Davidson portfolio comes at a time when Harley-Davidson is trying to cement itself in the market after a shaky few years financially.
Zeitz was brought in to replace former CEO Matt Levatich who intended to branch the company out from its traditional cruiser only offerings with the bold “More Roads to Harley-Davidson” plan that was scrapped by his successor.
Splitting the LiveWire and the electric R&D off from the traditional company could prove to be a wise move by Zeitz and the rest of the Harley-Davidson team which could take pressure off the parent company financially and win points with Harley-Davidson purists, while also allowing the LiveWire products to expand and grow away from the shadow of the Harley image.
According to Harley-Davidson, LiveWire will initially focus on the urban market - where EVs shine with a remit to “pioneer the electric motorcycle space, and beyond.”
The shackles of tradition already appear to have been broken, with the new company to be headquartered virtually with initial hubs in Silicon Valley and Milwaukee.
From launch, LiveWire will work with participating dealers from the Harley-Davidson network as an independent brand. This could be potentially the riskiest part of the affair, as we all know what happened with former Harley-Davidson sub-brand Buell...
With a dedicated focus on EV, LiveWire plans to develop the technology and to invest in the capabilities needed to lead the transformation of motorcycling. LiveWire expects to benefit from Harley-Davidson’s engineering expertise, manufacturing footprint, supply chain infrastructure, and global logistics capabilities.
Harley-Davidson won’t be completely cutting the new company loose, however. Both Harley and LiveWire intend to cooperate and share their technological advancements, meaning advancements from the EV side could still find there way into the traditional Harley-Davidson brand.