Harley’s new LiveWire is shockingly fun to ride and an explicit bid from Harley to get younger riders to buy its wares. That isn’t working out so far, though, according to a Reuters report. The numbers are, in fact, pretty bleak.
The first LiveWires have just started reaching dealerships this month—two months after the motorcycles were expected to arrive. Reuters polled dozens of Harley dealers from across the country to see how the rollout was going. The answer is: not great.
Most of the orders at the dealerships have been coming from older buyers who already ride, which is in-line with Harley’s current core demographic, one it’s desperately trying to change.
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Younger would-be buyers, meanwhile, are put off by the LiveWire’s high cost. The LiveWire starts at $29,799, almost enough for a Chevy Volt ($33,520) or over $10,000 more than the competing Zero SR/F electric bike.
Another thing holding LiveWire back: Its range, which is a decent 146 miles in the city but plummets on the highway, giving it 96 miles combined range.
The dealers Reuters spoke with haven’t been impressed.
Harley’s dealers said they are getting inquiries from young customers, but are struggling to translate them into sales. A key reason: LiveWire’s retail price.
“Interest is very high,” said a sales manager at a New Jersey-based dealership, who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak to media. “But once you get to pricing, interest is thrown out of the window.”
All of that is to be expected since, as the story points out, a lot of millennials have student-loan debt, and probably aren’t interested in shelling out $29,000 for any single thing, much less a heavy electric motorcycle with limited range. What should concern Harley, though, are the dealers who aren’t even trying.
Seven Harley dealerships told Reuters they have not even bothered ordering the bike, which would require investing in a Level 3 charging station and training staff.
An Ohio-based dealer, who had initially signed up for LiveWire, said he pulled out at the last minute as he was not sure of the bike’s demand in his area.
Harley wouldn’t say how many pre-orders it received for the LiveWire, but an analyst estimated they would sell between 400 and 1,600 LiveWires its first year. If true, that would be less than 1 percent of the total number of motorcycles it sells a year, which last year was 228,051.
This is in some part Harley’s plan, to have its flagship electric bike in the market before introducing lighter-weight and cheaper electric bikes in the years to come. Those bikes, I’m genuinely excited for. I wonder if Harley wishes it had started there first.