Harley-Davidson's first attempt at an electric motorcycle hits the roads the summer on a 30-city tour along Route 66.
The sleek, futuristic design of Harley-Davidson's Project LiveWire resembles something Max from Dark Angel would ride with the slashes of bright red against the matte black and chrome. As the company's signature and first electronic motorcycle, LiveWire commands a second and third look.
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Unlike the steel and chrome of the company's flagship rides, the latest one looks to break all rules again.
Discovery’s Glenn McDonald notes the company’s new look in the Gears and Gadgets piece, “Harley-Davidson Goes Electric.”
Another bonus feature is the way the torque instantly responds to the turn of the throttle. Due to the maximum range of 100-130 miles before needing a three-hour recharge, the bike is considered a city bike. So those long trips across the country won’t kill the traditional bike, either.
Of course Project LiveWire isn’t the official name, but the name does grab attention.
Project LiveWire's been touted as "more like the first electric guitar — not an electric car" by Mark-Hans Richer, the senior vice president at Harley-Davidson.
According to Jim Gorzelany in Forbes' "Hell Freezes Over: Harley-Davidson Unveils New Electric Motorcycle," electric scooters and upscale motorcycle models by Misson and Zero Motorcylces already exist in the market. But none of the companies own the market share of Harley-Davidson.
The Milwaukee-based company has dominated the market for most of the 20th century and the 21st century seems to be pushing closer as middle-aged men are no longer the target audience.
Young men and women, African-Americans, and Hispanics all doubled compared to the core customers. Customers of both genders between 18 and 35 make up 47.3 percent of the market share, while only 62 percent of the male buyers over the age of 35 purchased a Harley.
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Environmental concerns combined with upkeep costs weigh on a generation deep in debt. Denis Hopper is no longer the standard biker. While Priceline jokes about the stereotypical biker looking for a budget-friendly hotel, the truth is that young executives and professionals are in the market to buy.
LiveWire's sleek red along the tires brings to mind a slash of sensuality against the dark, dangerous black. And that's what the growing buyer share wants.
Gorzelany notes that markets outside the United States hold a lot weight, too. China, in particular, is indudated with lower-powered electric scooters. The company would be smart to play into the share, combining the power of a traditional bike but the quietness of a nearly silent vehicle.
The official unveiling to the press in New York will be on June 23. Until then, gearheads, bikers, and the curious must wait to find out more about the full specifications and direction of Harley-Davidson’s attempt at rebranding.
This summer will bring a 30-city tour along Route 66 to determine consumer viability of Project LiveWire.