Harley-Davidson Livewire electric motorcycle concept at 2014 New York Internatoinal Motorcycle Show
Harley-Davidson said on Thursday that it had “made an equity investment in Alta Motors and that the two companies will collaborate on electric motorcycle technology and new product development.”
The announcement comes on the heels of the news that Harley-Davidson has applied for a trademark on the name “H-D Revelation”.
Harley recently announced it will make its first production electric motorcycle in 2019, after it spent two years touring 40 electric LiveWire motorcycles around the U.S. and Europe for test rides.
Alta Motors is an up and coming electric motorcycle company, based in Brisbane, California, that produces three models of a small electric motorcycle designed for dirt racing against 250cc bikes.
The company’s electric motorcycles have been successful on the track, and Alta has aggressively increased its dealer network across the U.S.
A look at the company’s Facebook page reveals frequent announcements of new dealers, sometimes as often as every few days.
In the past it was rumored that Harley worked with engineers from the now defunct Mission Motors to develop the LiveWire.
Now, it appears to be working with Alta Motors to develop its production electric motorcycle.
In the announcement, Harley-Davidson was careful to make sure its riders knew the compoany will continue to produce its traditional gasoline-powered motorcycles as well.
“Earlier this year, as part of our 10-year strategy, we reiterated our commitment to build the next generation of Harley-Davidson riders,” said CEO Matt Levatich, “in part by aggressively investing in electric vehicle technology.”
Harley-Davidson Livewire electric motorcycle concept, test ride event, July 2014 [photo: Ben Rich]
Harley continues to be the dominant manufacturer in the U.S. motorcycle industry, but its lead has been declining in recent years.
This is partly due to a general reduction in interest in motorcycles; Harley has indicated it thinks one path to luring new riders is via electric motorcycles.
One reason is that electric motorcycles are easier to ride for beginners since there are no gears to change, and they require little or no upkeep or maintenance.
The industry will watch with interest to see what emerges from the partnership between a motorcycle maker known for large, loud bikes and one that has mostly made small, electric offroad bikes so far.