(But it’s Still a Harley!)by Harry Fisher, on
Harley Davidson shocked the motorcycling world when it announced the Livewire electric bike, a stunning departure for one of the most conservative and tradition-bound manufacturers in the world. Now, it seems as if the parent company is sending its child out to fend for itself by making it a stand-alone brand, even though it will still be firmly kept within the H-D fold, helping with future projects and being sold through the existing H-D dealer network.
The Livewire had a long gestation period before finally going into production in 2019, only for a problem with home charging rearing its head. Production was halted temporarily but resumed shortly afterwards once the issue was isolated and dealt with.
Now, Harley Davidson is creating a stand-alone brand for the bike, which will be called simply Livewire and have no H-D logos anywhere on the bike. With CEO Jochen Zeitz reiterating the company’s commitment to the traditional H-D motorcycle, powered by the venerable v-twin, this could be an attempt to distance the Livewire from that tradition and attract the younger audience the company craves.
The announcement stated that the Livewire brand will be an ‘agile disruptor’ and will be ‘headquartered virtually.’
However, the separation will not, in reality, be too drastic. The new Livewire company will be working with bikes already developed by H-D and will continue to make use of H-D dealers and develop future electric bikes for the Milwaukee company. How far into the future that will continue was not said.
With the recent financial woes of H-D, could making Livewire its own entity be a way of removing it from the H-D balance sheet? When development costs are taken into account alongside relatively slow sales, it could be seen as a liability; a situation that could change as the world embraces electric motorcycles but not certain by any means.