Harley-Davidson Launches LiveWire Electric Motorcycle. What About The Sound? : NPR
Harley-Davidsons are well-known for his or her iconic deep rumble. But the Milwaukee-based bike maker’s newest style options an electrical motor that emits a high-pitched whirring sound. Will Harley enthusiasts cross alongside for the trip?
After 5 years of tweaking and preparation, Harley-Davidson’s long-awaited electrical bike will birth rolling out to dealerships this summer season.
The corporate says electrical motorcycles are the longer term. Various startups are already advertising electrical bikes, and Harley does not need to be left within the mud. It needs to draw new shoppers, and it is eyeing enlargement in city facilities — and in the end in in another country markets, together with Asia, the place electrical scooters and bikes are well-liked.
The LiveWire, the electrical motorbike debuting in August, is sporty and fast — a side road motorbike constructed for city environments, now not for long-haul cruising. It can cross some 110 miles on a price, with immediate acceleration and, in a boon for first-time riders, no gear-shifting to fret about.
But it is a marked departure from the corporate’s conventional lineup, and it comes with a hefty ticket: $30,000.
Marc McAllister, the vp of product making plans and portfolio at Harley-Davidson, says the reaction to the LiveWire has been “overwhelmingly positive.”
There’s not anything incongruous about an electrical Harley-Davidson, he says. “After 115 years we’ve had to reinvent ourselves a number of times, and this is just the the next step in continuing the legacy,” he says.
But whilst there may be quite a lot of buzz across the motorbike, some riders are skeptical, says Kelley O’Brien, the selling supervisor for 2 Harley-Davidson dealerships, together with one in Washington, D.C.
“You have that demographic that have been a Harley rider for 30 years,” she says. “They don’t like it. They don’t like the sound — it’s not the same sound.”
“But it has a unique sound,” she says. “It’s still a Harley-Davidson … Be open-minded about it.”
Harley has confronted a difficult few years. Baby boomers are growing old out of the bike marketplace, and millennials are not changing them.
In 2014, the corporate shipped round 271,000 bikes international, says analyst Jaime Katz of Morningstar. In 2019, it is anticipated to send possibly 222,000 — “a pretty nice downswing over the last five years,” she says.
To attraction to more youthful consumers, Harley is providing smaller, inexpensive motorcycles — but it surely makes much less of a benefit on every of the ones, Katz says. Meanwhile, industry wars had been striking recent pressures at the corporate.
The LiveWire is not more likely to be a game-changer for the corporate, Katz says — a minimum of, now not anytime quickly. It’s simply too dear. “The overall target market for $30,000 bikes, whether it’s electric or traditional, is not significant,” she says.
The LiveWire is considered one of Harley’s most costly choices. Only the priciest trikes — three-wheeled bikes — and customized traveling motorcycles price extra.
Meanwhile, many entry-level motorcycles are to be had for lower than $10,000. Electric fashions from Zero — most definitely the best-known manufacturer of electrical bikes so far — vary from $eight,500 to $16,000, whilst different electrical bike start-u.s.are promising even inexpensive costs.
Harley lovers at a Washington, D.C., bike display illustrate the problem the corporate faces because it tries to marketplace the LiveWire.
Mike Anderson, of Alexandria, Va., is dressed in a vest with a great quantity of Harley Owners Group patches. He sprang for considered one of Harley’s priciest motorcycles. But the LiveWire?
“It’s going to be a great bike,” he says. “But to me, you know, I’m old-school. … You buy a Harley because you like the sound and the look and the feel, and the LiveWire of course is 180 degrees opposite of that.”
Then there may be David Lutzow, of Pasadena, Md. He thinks it is nice for the surroundings that Harley’s going electrical, and he’d like to look and listen to a LiveWire in individual. But …
“I’m not sure if it’s going to catch on,” he says. “I think it will attract the younger people — they call them, what, millennials or whatever? I think it will attract that group, other than 59-year-old farts like myself.”
And the ones millennials?
Andrew Delgado, of Woodbridge Va., is 28, and does not have a bike but. He says an electrical bike sounds cool. But the cost tag — “that’s not cool,” he says.
“I do like the idea,” he says. “Just not the price of it.”
He’s surfing bikes together with his younger daughter, dreaming of shopping for one in the future — for a 3rd of the cost of a LiveWire.