GOOD AND BAD NEWS FOR HARLEY-DAVIDSON; NEW FOCUS ON ELECTRIC BIKES AS LOSSES FORCE CLOSURE
Harley-Davidson had an up-and-down morning with the announcement that the company will focus on electric motorcycles while losses force the closure of its plant in Kansas City, Missouri. The bike builder, one of only two to survive the Great Depression, has become a household name over its 100+ year lifespan, though it has overcome some obstacles such as quality issues and tough competition around the world along the way.
The positive news of the company’s focus on electric bikes could find them tying into the tremendous push toward clean energy while maintaining the appeal of style and speed, a model set forth by electric carmaker Tesla. “The EV motorcycle market is in its infancy today, but we believe premium Harley-Davidson electric motorcycles will help drive excitement and participation in the sport globally,” said Harley-Davidson president and CEO Matt Levatich. “As we expand our EV capabilities and commitment, we get even more excited about the role electric motorcycles will play in growing our business.”
Harley-Davidson customers and motorcycle fans, in general, were shocked by the company’s electric motorcycle concept, Live Wire, revealed in 2014. The bike, which will reach 60 MPH from a standing start in less than 4 seconds, features a sporty design more akin to Harley’s cousin Buell. The electric model is slated to go into production later this year and, if all goes well, be available through the company’s network of dealers within 18 months.
Of course, as with many positives, there’s some bad news as well. The company cited significant losses due to tax restructuring and a costly self-imposed recall as the main reasons for the closure of it’s plant in Kansas City. Operation from that plant will be transferred to other facilities. “This decision was made after very careful consideration of our manufacturing footprint and the appropriate capacity given the current business environment,” said Bernadette Lauer, a H-D spokeswoman. “We are constantly evaluating capacity and our current U.S. capacity exceeds U.S. demand.”
Hopefully, the positives outweigh the negatives for the bike builder and help offset the fiscal downturn. Keep an eye out for info on the electric bike and more.
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