The legendary motorcycle maker announced its plans to unveil its first electric vehicle â€“ Project LiveWire.
The Milwaukee-based company will show handmade demonstration models Monday at an invitation-only event in New York. And next week selected customers will be given the chance to try the first Harley-Davidson prototypes beginning on Route 66.
â€śAmerica at its best has always been about reinvention,â€ť Harley-Davidson COO Matt Levatich said in a statement. â€śAnd, like America, Harley Davidson has reinvented itself many times in our history, which customers leading us every step of the way. Project LiveWire is another exciting, customer-led moment in our history.â€ť
The iconic company revealed that this year about 30 dealerships will be visited during the U.S. tour, which will expand into Canada and Europe in 2015.
â€śProject LiveWire is more like the first electric guitar – not an electric car,â€ť said Mark-Hans Richer, senior vice president at Harley-Davidson Motor Company.
â€śItâ€™s Â an expression of individuality and iconic style that just happens to be electric. Project LiveWire is a bold statement for us as a company and a brand.â€ť
The new bike, which blends Harley-Davidsonâ€™s styling heritage with modern technology, can go 130 miles before it needs charging and will offer riders a top speed of 92mph (148km/h). Recharges will take between 30 minutes to an hour.
The company havenâ€™t revealed much about the vehicle itself, although they noted that Project LiveWire will offer a â€śvisceral riding experience with tire-shredding acceleration and an unmistakable new sound.â€ť
â€śThe sound is a distinct part of the thrill,â€ť said Richer. â€śThink fighter jet on an aircraft carrier. Project LiveWire’s unique sound was designed to differentiate it from internal combustion and other electric motorcycles on the market.â€ť
Project LiveWire could help the company attract younger riders and accelerate growth in Europe and other international markets. In recent quarters, Harley-Davidson has reported strong sales growth in Latin America and Asia-Pacific, says Fox News.
â€śBecause electric vehicle technology is evolving rapidly, we are excited to learn more from riders through the Project LiveWire Experience,â€ť Richer said, adding that engaging with fans will help the company â€śto fully understand the definition of success in this market as the technology continues to evolve.â€ť
Fans can learn more about Project LiveWire, as well as specific dates and locations for Project LiveWire Experience stops at projectlivewire.com. Â All enthusiasts are also invited to follow and engage with the company on its social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The BBC News reports that purpose-built electric bicycles are becoming hugely popular. In China 25 million are sold each year, according to Prof Peter Wells, co-director of the automotive industry research group at Cardiff Business School.
The market for an electric Harley will be more “niche” he said but it is unsurprising that the firm is jumping on the bandwagon.
â€śWe are moving toward zero emissions cities and motorbike manufacturers, like car manufacturers have to go that way,â€ť he said. â€śIn an ideal world I expect that they want it to go faster and further than it will.â€ť