Analysts are calling it the most important and radical change that has been brought into the 115-year-history of Harley Davidson after the struggling motorbike maker unveiled its new and forst ever model of electric motorcycles as well as an electric bicycle.
The aim of the new products is to keep pace with the changing times, said Matt Levatich, CEO of the Milwaukee-based company, said while unveiling the products.
He said: “We are not running away from our core.”
A number of versions of what is being called by the company as “lightweight, urban” transportation products would be included in the electric motorcycle range, Levatich said. he added that the concept and designing of the new products were made specifically keeping in mind their potential appeal to “young adults, globally, living in dense urban spaces.”
the LiveWire electric prototype which was unveiled in 2014 gave the first signals that the company was interested in developing electric motorbikes. That electric bike is set to hit the counters next summer. An investment made by the company in electric motorcycle company Alta Motors was announced earlier this year.
the company on Monday unveiled a range of five more electric models which includes the lightweight, urban bikes and those would be available for sale by 2022.
An electric bicycle was also revealed by the company on the same occasion.
The plans of the company to target the emerging market was revealed at the unveiling of the new bikes. The company is planning to introduce a small motorbike in India within the next two years while Europe would see middle weight bikes being introduced by it in 2020m Harley Davidson said. The company is also planning expansion of bike ranges and distribution in China.
While pushing the new lighter models, the company would continue to also maintain its market dominance in the heavy bike category and further push sale of its classic Harleys – the full-size touring and cruiser motorcycles. These bikes still form the core of its business and international sales.
“We are shifting our mindset from ‘we build bikes’ to ‘we build riders,’” said Levatich, 53, said in an interview to the Los Angeles Times.
Harley-Davidson executives were invited to the White House in February 2017 by United States President Donald Trump, who was later infuriated by the decision of the company to move the production unit that served its European customers to Europe.
Levatich also defended the company decisions, which had been severely criticized by Trump, where the company had decided to shift a part of its production unit overseas because of import tariffs on the bikes by the European Union.
“Our preference is to make motorcycles in the US for the world market,” he said.
“But at the same time, we have to protect our business and preserve our market strength and serve our customers.”
The new models unveiled by the company are a survival strategy, the company says.
There had been a drop of 6.4 per cent in the sale of Harley bikes in the US for the second quarter compared to the same period last year.
“This whole plan to create new riders is a bold, ambitious and bordering-on-audacious goal,” said Levatich.
“But there is no other option.”
(Adapted from Telegraph.co.uk)