Electric Harley-Davidsons Are Coming—"Eventually"
Electric bikes will be part of a brand overhaul in Milwaukee.
Harley-Davidson is about to become a much more modern brand, according to a discussion between Bill Davidson and Drive (not us, these guys are Australian). Bill Davidson is the great grandson of HD co-founder William A Davidson and the current vice president of the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Davidson had a lot to say about the near future of the brand. He was in Sydney for Harley-Davidson’s 100th anniversary saying he was “excited about our future.” Davidson continued, "We actually showed a prototype of the electric Livewire [a few years ago] and that project is alive and well. We don't know yet when we're going to introduce it but it is progressing well and we will eventually introduce it."
So it sounds like electric Harleys are definitely coming, but we don’t have a good idea of when. Last we heard it was going to come out in 2021, but now the official launch is "eventually". Davidson addressed that the trademark Harley sound will be missing from a bike with no pistons or exhaust and said “we've actually created a unique sound through various technologies. We have studied our competitors and we understand what they are up to and we did not want a normal-sounding electric motorcycle. We wanted something that plays into that look and sound formula. It is something really cool. I often refer to it as sounding like a jet fighter."
That sounds to me like Harley is going to continue selling motorcycles solely on “character” rather than actually making a competitive product. It sounds like Davidson is more worried about what the bike will sound like than performance or range. We don’t have a timeframe for release or a projected price, but at least we know it will sound “like a jet fighter.”
What we do know about the Harley-Davidson Livewire prototype from a few years back is that it had a 7kWh battery powering an electric motor that made 74 horsepower and 56 lb-ft of torque. Those specs are pretty similar to an 883 Sportster. Its range was only about 50 miles. It had a modern aesthetic while still looking distinctly Harley.
Davidson also touched on autonomous tech saying he doesn’t think it will come to motorcycles. Harley-Davidson is playing the long game by trying to attract those resisting oncoming self-driving car technology by offering motorcycles which give you all of the control with no autonomous nannies. Davidson said, "I think the more automatic cars become that motorcycling will become more appealing. I see it as a huge opportunity."
Would you buy an electric Harley or should they stick to big, loud cruisers?