EASY-ON-THE-AIR RIDER

Harley-Davidson’s choppers are going silent with electric motors

Soon to be electric.
Soon to be electric.
Image: Reuters/Albert Gea
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The famous roar of a Harley-Davidson will soon just be the scream of electrons racing through a battery. After spending four years in a prototype stage, the most famous US motorcycle company’s first electric model is scheduled to hit showrooms by the middle of next year. During an investor call today (Jan. 30), the company announced its first production electric vehicle will be on the market “within 18 months.”

It’s been a long ride. Harley-Davidson launched Project LiveWire in 2014, which led to an experimental series of electric motorbikes that were never released to the public. After a few years of testing, the company now seems ready to accelerate into an electric future.

Harley-Davidson’s Project LiveWire prototype
Harley-Davidson’s Project LiveWire prototype
Image: Jim Young/Reuters

Research firm TechNavio predicts sales of electric motorcycles will grow 56% by 2020, even as the motorcycle industry as a whole is seeing declining demand. A number of high-end electric motorcycle companies have emerged, including Santa Cruz, California-based Zero and Silicon Valley-based Lightning, and have seized an early lead in the market. Walmart is selling electric motorcycles, and MotoGP, the world’s most popular motorcycling series, is adding an all-electric class. As electric vehicles take off globally, the old guard of the motorcycle world are following suit. Harley-Davidson executives made no announcement of discontinuing any internal combustion engine models.