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

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8048
JPY
USD
118.04
GBP
USD
0.6382
CAD
USD
1.1270
INR
USD
61.892

Rates may not be current.