After a year of promotions, acres of press, and well-received test rides of its Livewire prototype, Harley Davidson’s CEO says its electric motorcycle won’t arrive for at least a couple of years. And as always, the problem is range and cost.
Matt Levatich, the company’s just-installed chief executive, told the Wall Street Journal that the launch of an electric Harley isn’t coming “in the next couple years but it’s not past 2020 either, unless we run into some impossible barrier.”
H-D produced over three dozen Livewires for testing, with journalists and some 6,800 people taking it for brief spins during a promotional tour last year. However, it’s relatively small battery pack only provided around 50 miles of range, which Levatich maintains wouldn’t work – 100 miles is the minimum.
Additionally, the people polled during the tour said that they’d pay around $20,000 for the bike – which is about inline with the top-of-the-line Zero and new electric bikes slated to come from Victory and Indian – but at that price Levatich said Harley couldn’t sell the bike at a profit.
Instead, Levatich is going to stick with what’s working for now:
Harley is betting its dominant U.S. market share in traditional motorcycles and the company’s marketing clout mean it can afford to give others a head start.
Mr. Levatich said Harley would await improvements in battery technology so the LiveWire can have the performance he believes buyers expect. “Will we get to that Nirvana that customers say they want? Probably not,” he said. “Will we get close enough? I believe we will.”