Harley to expand LiveWire into full subsidiary
Harley-Davidson has now officially launched its own brand for electric motorbikes. The brand is called LiveWire, like the manufacturer’s first electric motorbike, which has been available since 2019. The first product of the new brand is to be released soon.
The new subsidiary brand LiveWire will officially be presented on 8 July, as Harley-Davidson announced, but has not yet given further details. With the new model, whose exact name and distinction from the Harley LiveWire is still unknown, there could then also be further statements on the direction of LiveWire. “One of the six pillars of The Hardwire Strategy is to lead in electric – by launching LiveWire as an all-electric brand, we are seizing the opportunity to lead and define the market in EV,” says CEO Jochen Zeitz.
What’s interesting here is that Harley-Davidson doesn’t just see electric motorcycles in the urban environment. “With an initial focus on the urban market, LiveWire will pioneer the electric motorcycle space, and beyond,” the company writes. “with a dedicated focus on EV, LiveWire plans to develop the technology of the future and to invest in the capabilities needed to lead the transformation of motorcycling.”
While LiveWire will operate as an independent entity and thus not just adapt existing models to electric propulsion. But the new offshoot plans to collaborate with parent Harley-Davidson in some areas: They want to share technological advances “to ensure industry-leading application in their respective core segments”. The new battery-electric subsidiary hopes to benefit from the parent company in terms of production, suppliers and logistics.
Harley Davidson says that LiveWire will be as independent as possible when it comes to distribution. It will work with “participating dealers from the Harley-Davidson network”, but as an independent brand. An “innovative go-to-market model” will combine digital and physical retail formats. Not only distribution will be partly digital: LiveWire will not move into a building as its headquarters, the headquarters will be virtual instead – this is how the brand wants to innovate and attract “industry-leading talent”.
The manufacturer already announced the establishment of a separate division for electric motorbikes in February as part of the five-year ‘Hardwire’ plan. With Serial 1, Harley-Davidson also launched its own brand for pedelecs last year.
Giving up the traditional name Harley-Davidson is a big step for the company – but it also shows that the management around Zeitz is trying to break with the dusty image. For years, the traditional manufacturer had been recording declining sales figures, partly because the market seemed to be saturated among its regular customers. Initially, new target groups were to be reached internationally with smaller combustion engine motorbikes, but this flopped. Now the LiveWire brand of electric motorcycles is to tap into new customer groups. With famous brands like Ducati missing the dawn of the age of electric motoring, LiveWire is well-positioned to conquer markets while less agile competitors remain static.
Indeed, business is picking up again: In the first quarter, turnover increased by around ten per cent to 1.4 billion dollars (1.15 billion euros) compared to Q1 2020. Profit even rose by 270 per cent to 259 million dollars (213 million euros).