Harley-Davidson surprised the motorcycle industry (as well as its die-hard fans) when it brought out its electric LiveWire concept in 2014. Though 40 of these bikes were built, with the model even making an appearance in the 2015 Marvel film Avengers: Age of Ultron, it wasn’t slated to see full-scale production. The feedback it generated, however, is being used to help develop the production vehicle Harley-Davidson plans to unveil in 2019. Now, the Milwaukee bike builder is stepping further into the electric realm with an announcement that it is investing in California-based electric moto company Alta Motors.
“Earlier this year, as part of our 10-year strategy, we reiterated our commitment to build the next generation of Harley-Davidson riders, in part by aggressively investing in electric vehicle (EV) technology,” Harley-Davidson President and CEO Matt Levatich said. “Alta has demonstrated innovation and expertise in EV and their objectives align closely with ours. We each have strengths and capabilities that will be mutually beneficial as we work together to develop cutting-edge electric motorcycles.”
We took Alta’s Redshift SM (supermoto) out on the streets of Manhattan and found it to be easy to handle and an absolute blast to ride. Alta CEO and co-founder Marc Fenigstein — who took a ride with us — chimed in on the Harley-Davidson partnership.
“Riders are just beginning to understand the combined benefits of EV today, and our technology continues to progress,” Fenigstein said. “We believe electric motorcycles are the future, and that American companies have an opportunity to lead that future. It’s incredibly exciting that Harley-Davidson, synonymous with motorcycle leadership, shares that vision and we’re thrilled to collaborate with them.”
Electric vehicles don’t need oil changes, nor does the rider need to learn to operate a clutch or shift gears. Harley-Davidson and Alta are hoping to capitalize on this “twist-and-go” mode of motoring, which may attract newer and younger riders who might otherwise not consider swinging their leg over a bike.
Purists may scoff at the idea of a (relatively) silent Harley, but the company has no plans to replace its line with juiced-up electric gliders.
“We intend to be the world leader in the electrification of motorcycles and, at the same time, remain true to our gas and oil roots by continuing to produce a broad portfolio of motorcycles that appeal to all types of riders around the world,” Levatich said.
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