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

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9118
JPY
USD
124.31
GBP
USD
0.6420
CAD
USD
1.3048
INR
USD
64.136

Rates may not be current.