Harley struggles to fire up new generation with e-bike debut

Harley-Davidson Inc is betting on electric motorcycles to attract the next generation of younger and more environmentally conscious riders to reverse declining US sales.
But as Harley ships its first “LiveWire” bikes — priced at $29,799 — to dealers, there is little evidence the 116-year-old brand is catching on with new young customers.
The problem lies mostly with this “super-premium” product’s price. The bike costs nearly as much as a Tesla Model 3, and aims for a market that does not really exist: young, “green” and affluent first-time motorcyclists. The sleek sport bike has been available for preorder in the United States since January. However, the bulk of the orders are coming in from existing and old riders, according to interviews with 40 of the 150 dealerships nationwide that are carrying the bike this year.
The dealers Reuters spoke with account for little over a quarter of LiveWire dealerships and are spread across Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, California, Nevada, New Jersey and New York.
Harley has for years failed to increase sales in the United States, its top market accounting for more than half of its motorcycles sold. As its tattooed, baby-boomer base ages, the Milwaukee-based company is finding it challenging to woo new customers.
In 2018, Harley posted the steepest sales decline in four years in the United States. US sales are tipped to fall again this year.
When Chief Executive Officer Matt Levatich announced LiveWire’s launch last year, his hope was the ease of riding motorcycles with no gears or clutch would help attract young and environmentally conscious urban riders. In an interview with Reuters in February 2018, Levatich said the bike would help address Harley’s demographic problem.
“It is more about the next century than the last century,” he said at the time.
— Reuters