News / Economy

Harley Creates Buzz with Electric Bike, 'Hog' Fans Snort

Mark-Hans Richer, the chief marketing officer of Harley Davidson, speaks in front of an electric Harley Davidson motorcycle that is part of the "Project Livewire" in the company's store in New York, June 23, 2014
Mark-Hans Richer, the chief marketing officer of Harley Davidson, speaks in front of an electric Harley Davidson motorcycle that is part of the "Project Livewire" in the company's store in New York, June 23, 2014
Reuters
Howie Barokas had just ridden his Harley-Davidson Ultra Limited on Highway 50 across the searing Nevada desert when he heard about the company's new electric motorcycle.
 
He wasn't impressed.
 
Then again, Harley-Davidson Inc. was looking beyond loyal baby boomers like 49-year-old Barokas when it unveiled its first electric prototype bike last Thursday.
 
More panther than hog, the all-black electric prototype is a far cry from the bulky cruising bikes the Milwaukee-based company has cranked out since 1903.
 
It is, of course, also missing an exhaust pipe that emits the Harley's distinctive “potato-potato-potato” rumble, but does have a high-pitched sound like a jet plane.
 
“The guys I'm riding with and I talked about it and none of us would want the bike,” Barokas, who runs a Seattle public relations firm, said a day after the unveiling of Harley's “Project LiveWire”.
 
The prototype is part of Harley-Davidson's strategy to appeal to younger buyers as well as women.
 
Earlier this year, the company launched “Street”, its most affordable small bike in decades.
 
John Schaller, owner of the largest Harley-Davidson dealership in Milwaukee, said the electric motorcycle was another move in the right direction for the company.
 
“The electric bike has created a significant buzz already and [younger] people are excited,” he said.
 
Harley-Davidson's Facebook posting about “Project LiveWire”  had attracted nearly 42,000 “likes” as of Tuesday.
 
Comments were decidedly mixed, ranging from variations of “Booooooooooo...” to “finally, something really different”.
 
Rajesh Sharma, a 31-year-old Harley enthusiast in Bangalore, India, liked the idea, even though no plans have been announced to sell the bike in India - or anywhere else, for that matter.
 
“If you're giving me the same look, the same performance, why won't I switch to it?” asked the architect, a member of the Bangalore Harley Owners Group. “Looking at the way fuel consumption is going, it's a good move.”
 
Sharma said he wouldn't trade in his Harley Sportster SuperLow for an electric bike. But might buy one as a second vehicle - provided it looked like a cruiser.
 
Other companies have electric motorcycles in production or in the planning stage. But none have created the buzz of the new Harley, which is not yet in dealerships.

 
An electric Harley Davidson motorcycle that is part of the companies "Project Livewire" stands on a street in New York, June 23, 2014.An electric Harley Davidson motorcycle that is part of the companies "Project Livewire" stands on a street in New York, June 23, 2014.
x
An electric Harley Davidson motorcycle that is part of the companies "Project Livewire" stands on a street in New York, June 23, 2014.
An electric Harley Davidson motorcycle that is part of the companies "Project Livewire" stands on a street in New York, June 23, 2014.

​Harley-Davidson started touring the prototype around U.S. dealerships this week, offering rides to potential customers to gather feedback before deciding on production plans. The tour is scheduled to move to Europe and Canada next year.
 
One task is to convince riders about the range of the bike's lithium-ion battery. Will they still be able to ride into the desert sunset without getting stranded?
 
“We rode on a highway on Thursday and almost ran out of gas,” said Barokas, who's road trip included a stretch of road  known as 'America's loneliest highway'.
 
“When we pulled into a small town, a shopkeeper brought up the electric Harley and said 'what are you going to do when you're on a road like this, stop and plug the bike into a cow?”'
 
Other riders see potential for the bike, even if its range is limited.
 
“The electric bike [is] geared more for people that are going to be urban and commuting and having some fun at the same time,” said John Kerecz, a 52-year-old Harley enthusiast in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
 
Kerecz, whose 1984 Iron Head is the oldest of his three Harleys, said he would consider buying the electric motorcycle as a “retirement toy”.
 
Harley-Davidson has not disclosed a price for the bike, but Kerecz said he would be willing to pay as much as $16,000.
 
The cost of current models range from $8,700 to $39,000, according to the company's website.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7537
JPY
USD
103.79
GBP
USD
0.6032
CAD
USD
1.0957
INR
USD
60.522

Rates may not be current.