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Harley-Davidson Invests More Into Electric Motorcycles As Tariff Threats Loom

Illustration for article titled Harley-Davidson Invests More Into Electric Motorcycles As Tariff Threats Loom

Harley-Davidson has been stuck in a bit of a rut lately thanks to reporting 82 percent less profit between 2016 and 2017, a big recall and the looming threat of tariffs on its products in Europe. In a (likely) attempt to calm its shareholders, the company recently announced an investment in Alta Motors, an electric motorcycle manufacturer.


Harley-Davidson is hoping its plans for an electric motorcycle will keep things interesting and help it appeal to new riders, and its investment in Alta will help its development of its future LiveWire EV bike. The amount of the investment was not disclosed, according to the Los Angeles Times.

It’s good that Harley is aware it has to do something, even if news of the investment is already being met by a doubling down of reports today that the European Union will impose a tariff against motorcycles, blue jeans and whiskey in response to President Trump’s proposed metals tariffs.


The Harley-Davidson electric LiveWire concept was announced in 2014, but it targeted top speed and didn’t have any real promise of daily practicality. The actual production model, which is expected for 2020, will be an urban electric motorcycle with Harley-Davidson’s signature styling language.

Alta Motors will continue to make its range of electric motorcycles and dirt bikes, including motocross and supermoto models.

The problem is that electric motorcycles haven’t really taken off quite yet, lacking the same amount of interest and exploration that electric cars have benefited from lately. Harley and Alta are hoping they can take advantage of whatever untapped opportunity there is in the face of everything else going so wrong.

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Motorcycles are both the most and least logical vehicle to get an electric drivetrain.

On the one hand, motorcycles are already a second or third vehicle which is used primarily for short distances. A perfect application for an electric vehicle.

On the other hand, motorcycles are already an efficient means of transportation. Combined with their generally limited use, it will take a lifetime to offset the initial cost.