Harley-Davidson CEO Matthew Levatich dropped more than a few bombs during today’s earnings report, first saying that the Bar & Shield brand would close its Kansas City factory and consolidate production around its York, Pennsylvania plant.
The American brand isn’t stopping the news there though. Offering a carrot of good tidings, Harley-Davidson reports that it will make its first production electric motorcycle within the next 18 months, effectively bringing its Livewire concept into production.
Asphalt & Rubber readers will remember that the Livewire was a purpose-built concept done by Harley-Davidson in order to gauge the market reaction to the Bar & Shield brand going electric.
Offering limited test rides, Harley-Davidson got positive responses to the Livewire experience, and the project has been internally green-lit ever since.
Of note though, the Harley-Davidson Livewire concept was built on-spec by the now defunct Mission Motors. Then leaning on the San Francisco startup for its electric drivetrain expertise, it will be interesting to see how Harley-Davidson now plans to build its production electric bikes.
Will the iconic American brand be developing this tech in-house? Will they find a strategic partner? Or will they be using off-the-shelf components?
The answer will be an important component to Harley-Davidson’s electric success, and it will also help gauge how serious the American brand is with its electric future.
Not known for its market-leading capabilities, Harley-Davidson is one of the few major manufacturers to commit to a production electric motorcycle. So far, only KTM has brought to market an electric version of its core motorcycle lineup, though BMW has an electric scooter on offer.
We have seen movements from the Japanese brands, but nothing concrete. Similarly, Ducati seems set to add an electric motorcycle to its arsenal, as a part of the Volkswagen Group’s larger Roadmap E initiative. May you live in interesting times.