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
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 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
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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9012
JPY
USD
122.90
GBP
USD
0.6400
CAD
USD
1.2582
INR
USD
63.438

Rates may not be current.