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Harley-Davidson CEO Jochen Zeitz says that the company plans to go 100% electric in the future. It's a change he says that could take decades to make.


Harley-Davidson is planning to phase out motorcycles powered by its storied internal combustion engines, and will slowly but surely transform into an all-electric brand. Harley CEO Jochen Zeitz tells Dezeen that after 120 years of being famous for its big gas-powered models, electrification is the logical next step. That is, if the company plans on sticking around for another 120 years.

Harley-Davidson’s EV transition “needs to happen,” according to its CEO, and not just on a small scale with a brand like LiveWire. No, we’re talking H-D dealers selling EVs exclusively, although it isn’t going to happen overnight.

Zeitz says it could take decades — plural — so at, the very least, we’re looking at some time after 2033, or easily into the 2040s. But the change is coming:

“If you look at the past 120 years, the company has always evolved, never stood still,” he said. “Now, like the founders did at the time by trying to reinvent or invent something unique, that’s obviously something that we as a company brand need to do as well.”
“What we’re doing is celebrating our past but also evolving the brand at the same time,” he continued. “It’s a natural evolution that needed to happen”.
This new commitment to Harley-Davidson branded EVs calls into question the company’s recent decision to spin off current EV models into its new LiveWire brand, but Zeitz went on to explain:

“We are thinking: ‘how do we evolve if you think really long term’, as this will not be an overnight transition,” he said.
“It takes decades, right? But you have to also think in decades rather than just thinking about what year and the short-termism that everyone is exposed to as a public company. We have to think about the transition, and preparing for that transition is why LiveWire was born.”
It’s possible Harley-Davidson is fully aware that its core customers have little interest in buying EVs. If that’s the case, then the move to compartmentalize, or “quarantine,” its EV efforts seems downright shrewd: it lets Harley keep selling pricy large-displacement hogs and baggers to the H-D faithful as it fills up its war chest. After all, moving to a fully-electric lineup is not going to be cheap.

Maybe that’s why Harley isn’t committing to a hard and fast timeline just yet. Still, it’s ironic that the bikes dragging old Harley down in the eyes of generations of newer riders are going to pave the way for a new Harley:

According to Zeitz, the transformation of the iconic brand means focusing on people who may not typically ride large motorcycles and even those that do not ride at all.
“I believe in big transformational change for iconic brands, which is what I’ve always done in my life,” he said.
“We are targeting different consumer profiles – you have the traditional core customer, but you have a contemporary core customer, you have dreamers that aspire to ride or may just dream about the brand,” he continued.
Perhaps for the first time in a long time, Harley-Davidson is truly thinking about the long-term. The iconic American company could stand to be a little more transparent about its EV roadmap — as other companies in the auto and moto industry have been. But what seems clear for now is that Harley is finally looking at its future rather than its past.
 

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Perhaps for the first time in a long time, Harley-Davidson is truly thinking about the long-term. The iconic American company could stand to be a little more transparent about its EV roadmap — as other companies in the auto and moto industry have been. But what seems clear for now is that Harley is finally looking at its future rather than its past.
I LOVE THE LIVEWIRE. IF YOU HAVEN'T JUMPED ON ONE FOR A TEST DRIVE YOU REALLY DESERVE TO DO IT. They are very small, incredibly light and feel like a toy. This is precisely why I can NEVER recommend a new rider getting on a LiveWire. They will get hurt or worse. But for fans of the bikes and the brand, I was proud to ride one and know that indeed, the future will head toward electric AND CLEARLY WITH PAN AMERICA...MORE ELECTRONICS in control of the bike and with riders in control of the electronics. Sure there are always bugs in the way but this is the future.

I'll buy a LiveWire within a few years as efficiencies improve. IF you jump on one now, please have fun and be safe. HOWEVER, DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES "TOOT" THE HORN. YOU'LL DIE OF EMBARASSMENT RIGHT ON THE SPOT. Ok, that's my safety tip but otherwise, YOU GOTTA FEEL IT UNDER YOU!
 

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I'm sorry but the day I can't ride it loud is the day I quit riding, and I'm a bit too old for putting cards in my spokes 😁
HAHAHAHAHA. Now that you mention it, while I was riding the LiveWire I did feel like a kid cuz it seemed like a toy and sure enough, under my helmet I could hear myself loudly screaming rasberries to the tune of "brrrrrrr, burrrrrrrr, burrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr" as I was shifting through the gears.
 
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I'm gonna just keep fixing my 'old' Harleys and the new Moco can pound sand - on foot when they run outta charge. ;)
The stupidity of Harley Davison leadership should never be underestimated. In the future, any bike builder can create an electric bike and the Chinese can do it cheaper and faster. So, in a side-by-side comparison in the distant future, a similar product will be offered by a foreign company compared to a much more expensive American made product, perhaps twice as much more. Who does HD think will be buying their common everyday electric bikes that cost twice as much? Idiots, HD has a market carved out and they are wisely expanding into the Adventure touring market with a fantastic new engine design. Perfect time to screw it up and become like similar to all the other future electric bike compaines and charge twice as much, then wonder why you are out of business.
 

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The stupidity of Harley Davison leadership should never be underestimated. In the future, any bike builder can create an electric bike and the Chinese can do it cheaper and faster. So, in a side-by-side comparison in the distant future, a similar product will be offered by a foreign company compared to a much more expensive American made product, perhaps twice as much more. Who does HD think will be buying their common everyday electric bikes that cost twice as much? Idiots, HD has a market carved out and they are wisely expanding into the Adventure touring market with a fantastic new engine design. Perfect time to screw it up and become like similar to all the other future electric bike compaines and charge twice as much, then wonder why you are out of business.
Maybe at that time Polaris will buy them too
 
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