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A Harley-Davidson executive reveals the biggest opportunity for its new electric motorcycle

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A Harley-Davidson executive reveals the biggest opportunity for its new electric motorcycle
  • Harley-Davidson is preparing to release its first electric motorcycle, the LiveWire, in August.
  • The company hopes the bike will appeal to urban consumers and present a low barrier of entry for people new to motorcycles, Marc McAllister, Harley-Davidson‘s vice president of product portfolio, said in an interview with Business Insider.
  • Harley-Davidson said in a 2018 investor presentation that it plans to introduce at least two more electric motorcycles by the end of 2022.

Harley-Davidson is preparing to release its first electric motorcycle, the LiveWire, in August. The company hopes the bike will appeal to urban consumers and present a low barrier of entry for people new to motorcycles, Marc McAllister, Harley-Davidson’s vice president of product portfolio, said in an interview with Business Insider.

“EV lends itself extremely well to growing the next generation of riders when you think of its ease of entry and its ease of use for non-motorcyclists,” he said.

Read more: A former Harley-Davidson executive is attempting one of the biggest challenges in the business — establish a new motorcycle brand in the US

While gas-powered motorcycles require drivers to shift gears, a process that can be difficult to learn for new riders, the LiveWire’s electric motor eliminates the need for gear-shifting; riders need only to twist the throttle to make the LiveWire accelerate. The motorcycle will also feature ride modes that can be tailored to the owner’s level of experience. An inexperienced owner can opt to have the vehicle’s maximum power output reduced, for example.

“It’s less intimidating to jump on and learn how to ride,” McAllister said.

The LiveWire will also be nimbler and more agile than Harley-Davidson’s current offerings, McAllister said, another benefit for urban riders. Appealing to urban consumers is a priority for Harley-Davidson due to the global trend toward urbanization, but the company’s gas-powered motorcycles are less suited to urban riders than the LiveWire due to their size and riding styles, McAllister said.

“Getting great at delivering urban riding experiences is something that we see the future needing us to do.”

The LiveWire is tailored to urban riders in part by necessity. Harley-Davidson says the LiveWire will have a range of around 110 miles, which is fine for many commutes, but could make road trips difficult.

“[The LiveWire] lends itself to an urban usage because you’re going to end up at home,” McAllister said. For “most people’s normal usage, this vehicle has more than enough range.”

For riders who need to charge away from home, Harley-Davidson dealers that sell the LiveWire will have fast-charging stations available once the vehicle is released. Around 150 dealers will sell the LiveWire at first, and the number of charging stations will expand with the number of dealers that carry the vehicle.

Starting at just under $30,000, the LiveWire is priced at the high end of Harley-Davidson’s offerings, but McAllister suggested the LiveWire will be among the most expensive electric motorcycles the company will offer in the coming years, the most affordable of which will begin at “a few thousand dollars.”

McAllister declined to say if Harley-Davidson planned to make a specific percentage of its portfolio electric in the coming decades, but the company said in a 2018 investor presentation that it plans to introduce at least two more electric motorcycles by the end of 2022.

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