Motorcycles

Pathway to the electric Hog: Harley-Davidson buys a chunk of Alta Motors

Harley-Davidson buys a stake in California's Alta Motors – the two companies will team up to produce the first production electric Harley in 2019
Harley-Davidson buys a stake in California's Alta Motors – the two companies will team up to produce the first production electric Harley in 2019
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Harley-Davidson buys a stake in California's Alta Motors – the two companies will team up to produce the first production electric Harley in 2019
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Harley-Davidson buys a stake in California's Alta Motors – the two companies will team up to produce the first production electric Harley in 2019

In the wake of Harley-Davidson's eyebrow-raising announcement last month that the loudest, brashest motorcycle brand in the world is planning to go electric, the company has put its money where its mouth is and bought a stake in California-based electric motorcycle manufacturer Alta Motors. The two companies plan to work together to build the first generation of electric Harleys, for release in 2019.

Alta brings plenty to the table in this arrangement; its Redshift series of electric motocrossers and supermoto bikes have already proven themselves in performance terms, famously winning the 250 class and coming second in the 450 class in their first race against combustion bikes. So the company clearly has significant tech to offer.

Harley, for its part, has a gigantic international dealership network, mass manufacturing capabilities, one of the world's most storied brands and a baked-in horde of logo-tattooed fans to rival any corporate messiah.

On the other hand, members of said horde are probably among the least likely individuals in the world to sacrifice their noisy motorcycles for a quiet electric cruiser, no matter how cool the design is or by how much it out-performs the big-bore originals.

But Harley isn't worried; it'll continue to make the kinds of bikes HOG members have loved for 115 years now. The electric venture is all about bringing new riders into the fold.

The press release is clear on this: "Harley-Davidson and Alta Motors aim to attract new audiences who are inspired by motorcycles and drawn to the 'twist-and-go' ease and exhilaration of an electric motorcycle with no gears or clutch."

With the expertise of Alta and the muscle of Harley-Davidson, there's every chance this union could achieve its goal of becoming the world leader in electric motorcycles – certainly in terms of sales at least.

This kind of mass market push could be the rising tide that lifts all boats in this fledgling market. We certainly hope so.

Source: Harley-Davidson via PRNewswire

3 comments
Nik
Most Harley riders I've seen are ''Posers'' who merely buy the bike to be part of the 'in' crowd. A very few are long distance riders. So, electric bikes, with their minimal range, and short lived 'exotic' performance should suit the posers admirably. Also I.C. Harley's are known to be ''owner participation machines,'' or in other more precise words, unreliable, and requiring lots of maintenance, if used for any length of time, so the minimal maintenance of electric Harley's should also suit the posers perfectly. The owners of Harley Davidson obviously know their market perfectly.
Biker Bill
Hey "Nik", before you go judging Harley owners any further, save up and buy one. Most of us are avid riders and appreciate a well built machine. I have owned my 18 year old Softail Deuce since new. The maintenance has been minimal to say the least. Other than tires, brakes, oil changes and batteries, my Harley has been bullet prove. It is reliable, a joy to ride, and I wouldn't hesitate to buy another one. No "real biker" will be interested in a battery powered bike no matter who produces it. Battery powered vehicles are good for one thing only.....golf carts.
Nik
Hi, Biker Bill, you will notice that I said 'most' not 'all.' During a 21,000 mile tour of the USA, some 25 years ago, which included a visit to Sturgis during bike week, I met a lot of bikers, and only one real long distance rider was on a Harley. In a truck stop, I was asked, by a truck driver, why I didnt use a Harley, His mate said, ''I'd rather ride a Honda, than push a Harley.'' Before starting the trip, I researched second hand bikes, and many were ten years old, and had just 10,000 miles on the clock. which would equate to a couple of weekend trips per year! (A distance I would expect to travel easily in one year, in those days,) The one Harley was an obviously well used machine, and towing an enormous trailer, with everything for a long trip, including a bag of ice, which he generously used some of which to cool my female companion who was approaching heat stroke. The other long distance riders were a couple from Arkansas, on a Gold Wing, and another chap, in 'Wall City'' on a BMW. I used a Honda Pan, chosen primarily for its shaft drive. {The test to identify a 'poser' is the annual mileage. [1000 miles per year only, qualifies.];-)} To be fair, since my tour, Harley Davidson was reclaimed from the accountants that had bought, and wrecked, the company, and revived it to its present state, so no doubt the build quality has returned to its original impeccable level, but at the time of my tour I chose the most reliable option available, in my price range.
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