Harley-Davidson LiveWire was rolled out amidst much fanfare as the manufacturer’s very first electric motorcycle. This was all the more significant as it made Harley the first to introduce an all-electric motorcycle among the mainstream two-wheeler giants from across the world. Add to that, LiveWire came at a time when H-D is witnessing a sales slowdown in the US as younger buyers are preferring to purchase a used Harley instead one right from the dealership owing to high-cost hurdles. So, it was Harley’s way of reaching the younger audience to revive its sales.
However, the cost hurdle remains stagnant with the LiveWire as it is priced about the same as a Tesla Model 3. And its target audience is young, first-time who riders conscious of the environment – which currently do not exist.
According to a Reuters report, Harley posted the steepest sales decline in four years in the United States in 2018. Sales in the US are tipped to fall again this year.
Harley has for years failed to increase sales in the United States, its top market accounting for more than half of its motorcycles sold. As its tattooed, baby-boomer base ages, the Milwaukee-based company is finding it challenging to woo new customers.
California-based Zero Motorcycles is already selling electric bikes in the United States with retail prices ranging from $8,500 to $21,000. Its top-end bike – SR/F – is similar to LiveWire, but costs nearly $9,000 less.
Still, Bob Clark, a dealer for Zero’s bikes in Chicago, says he has not yet sold one SR/F to riders under the age of 35. All three electric bikes he sold to young riders this year were in the $10,000 price range.
“Young riders are environmentally conscious, but are also very price-sensitive,” Clark said.
It is not just pricing. LiveWire’s limited range is also hampering its sales.
The bike can travel 146 miles (235 km) in the city or 95 miles (152 km) in combined city and highway riding per charge. An ordinary household outlet can provide an overnight charge, while Level 3 direct current fast chargers stationed at Harley dealers will fully charge the bike in 60 minutes.
This renders LiveWire less effective for longer-distance rides, limiting its appeal among rural riders who prefer touring bikes.
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.