Wednesday, July 13, 2016

This seems like a bad idea

Harley-Davidson to introduce an electric motorcycle:
The iconic American motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson has said it is dedicated to having electric powered motorbikes on the road within the next five years. 
The company had been touting its LiveWire e-powered concept bike for years, but only within the last couple weeks has the firm committed to a timeline on production of the pioneering vehicle.  
'Harley-Davidson will produce an electric motorcycle for customers within the next five years,' writes Harley Senior Vice President of Global Demand Sean Cummings in the Milwaukee Business Journal. 
What's the reason that someone buys a Harley?  Not "buys a motorcycle" - the feeling of freedom yadda yadda yadda - but "buys a Harley"?

It's the sound.

You can get a quiet performance bike from a ton of other vendors, but Harley is about the noise.  The fact that they already sell a quiet motorcycle (the V Rod) proves this rule: the V Rod is a niche bike, and a bunch of buyers make after market modifications to make the bike sound more like a Harley.

I predict this new product line will fail, not because you can only ride 50 miles before recharging (they can improve this), but because Harley customers don't want a quiet motorcycle.  They can get one of those from BMW or Yamaha.

This is bad planning, bad marketing, and a bad use of development resources.

11 comments:

Timmeehh said...

The electric Harley will have a boombox where the muffler used to be, playing an endless loop of "potato, potato, potato".

SiGraybeard said...

Is it a grab for some of that sweet gubmint money? Some sort of "green grant"?

James Zachary said...

Flashback to the late fifties and early sixties ...

... a clothespin holding a baseball card against a spoked rim ...

... a BALLOON held by two clothespins against a spoked rim sounds GREAT ... for maybe thirty feet before it pops.

Harley needs a durable high-tech balloon ...

Sherm said...

And they'll discover that the "cool" kids still won't invite them to parties.

EricN said...

I concur, this is a non-starter.

bruce said...

I'm not the one to ask about motorcycle mufflers. I find their special exemption from noise muffling to be a curse on the rest of society. Not really a fan of the needles noise in otherwise quiet neighborhoods.

Goober said...

It never ceases to amaze me how much extra people will pay for a noisy, poorly timed engine, on a heavy, poorly balaced motorcycle, simply because it has the name of sumdood written on the poorly designed fuel tank.

So given that, I've no earthly idea of how well this thing will sell, because harley people make no sense to me, in the first place. For all I know it will sell like crazy. You never underestimate the ability of harley riders to be willing to overpay for an inferior product...

*puts on fire retardant suit and ducks behind a wall*

Ratus said...

Because BP, it will be the only electric bike that leaks oil. :D

ASM826 said...

Ratus,

And the leak will be a feature, not a bug.

Ken said...

It's an interesting workaround for the whole "It's a $25,000 bike, you'd think they'd be able to make it idle" thing.

Will said...

" I find their special exemption from noise muffling..."

No exemption I'm aware of for H-D.

Virtually no one leaves the OEM exhaust on the big twin H-D. Two reasons:
1) The feds measure the total amount of noise generated by the bike, and an air-cooled engine radiates a lot of internal noise that liquid cooled engines don't. Consequently, the exhaust needs to be even quieter than an equivalent liquid-cooled twin or 4 cylinder would need.

2) The fewer pistons for the same size engine, the less restriction inside the exhaust is required to make a reasonable amount of power. That means it has to be LOUDER.

For a performance twin, the power output difference between muffled and unmuffled can be astounding.

FWIW: I'm not a Harley rider. European twins were my focus.