Harley-Davidson to launch electric motorcycle in 2019: Does a silent Harley even sound right?

Harley-Davidson has announced it will be launching an all-electric motorcycle in 2019. As is known Harley motorcycles are adored for their loud V-Twins. With the signature exhaust note missing, what will a typical Harley rider look forward to?

By: | Published: January 31, 2018 3:41 PM

Harley Davidson LiveWire

Harley-Davidson is going to build an all-electric motorcycle. Yes, they are. The cruiser motorcyclists' delight, the beloved Milwaukee motorcycle company will produce an electric bike, and has confirmed it will be introduced in 18 months, Bloomberg reported. The news comes four years after Harley-Davidson unveiled its 'Livewire' project, an electric prototype. If the production motorcycle is anything like the Livewire prototype, it will have a range of about 80 km and will do a 0-100 km/h sprint in 4 seconds. But is that quick for an electric bike? For a better perspective, Zero SR does 0-100 km/h in 3.3 seconds and the Mission R racer does a top speed of about 240 km/h. The two are all-electric motorcycles, compare this to a traditional motorcycle, if you must - a Ducati Monster 1200 does 0-100 km/h in 3 seconds. The full specs of Harley-Davidson electric motorcycle are not out yet, but we'll know in 18 months.

“You’ve heard us talk about Project LiveWire,” Matt Levatich, the president and chief executive officer of Harley-Davidson, said on Tuesday. “It’s an active project we’re preparing to bring to market within 18 months.''

The electric motorcycle market is very small around the world currently, however, it is one that will have to catch on considering the shift that most automobile manufacturers seem to be making towards electric powertrains.

Harley-Davidson is eyeing global dominance when it comes to electric motorcycles and is one of the first to announce the development of one. Chief Financial Officer John Olin has said that the company will spend $25 million to $50 million per year over the next several years on electric motorcycle technology.

There are electric motorcycles on sale in the European market Bayerische Motoren Werke AG's Evolution e-Scooter. BMW Motorrad too has an electric concept that will not require the rider to wear a helmet. In India, there are electric scooters on sale and the trend is catching on with more and more significant players like TVS and Honda announcing that they'll launch electric scooters in the country. However, we don't have an electric motorcycle in India yet. Who knows, the Harley-Davidson electric could be the first one.

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It is quite ironical that a brand such as Harley-Davidson, which is known for its choppers and cruisers with big loud engines mostly hated by green agencies for being too polluting, to be investing in an electric powertrain. Harley buyers, even new ones, mostly buy them for the outlaw character marked by the noise from the high-displacement V-Twins.

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The universal appeal of Harley-Davidson motorcycles revolves around those signature exhaust notes, and an electric Harley will be quiet. There may be some first Harley buyers, who will welcome an electric Harley, but with the aficionados, the absence of noise may mean the absence of character. And trust me, motorcyclists put a lot of faith in a bike based on what it sounds like.

It is a major change and keeping pace with the need of the hour, which emissions-free vehicles, the whole scenario around cars and bikes, about being a motoring enthusiast, will change.

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