Born to be mild: Full-electric Harley-Davidson e-bikes coming to NZ
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The biker gangs of the future could be a lot quieter.
Harley-Davidson says it will release five electric vehicles between 2019 and 2022, from a lightweight e-bicycle (pictured below) to a series of electric motorbikes.
The iconic American company confirms its e-bikes will be released in New Zealand. An exact release date is pending, but the Herald was curious how followers of the legendary brand would react to its latest product.
Greg Ogg, an alumnus of the Auckland chapter of the Harley Owners Group (HOG), says Harley owners stratify into three groups: outlaw bikers, social riders and an "emerging riders" category that includes retired people and a growing number of women.
"I can't see the outlaws grasping e-bikes with both hands, to be honest," Ogg says.
He thinks the company might have more luck with social and emerging riders, who he's picking might buy the e-bike as a second vehicle.
Harley-Davidson has not released tech specs for its LiveWire electric motorcycle (pictured below) but an early prototype managed 0 - 60 miles per hour (95.6 km/h) in four seconds thanks to the lack of gears and instant torque. Its range on one charge was around 100km - similar to NZ's home-grown Ubco.
While the acceleration might be impressive, another HOG enthusiast, Auckland man Kevin McIntyre, says noise is important to hardcore bikers, leaving the silent-running LiveWire with zero appeal.
Stats NZ says 27,646 e-bikes and e-scooters were imported in the year to June 2018, a big jump on the 11,424 brought into the country in 2016.
Bikes International MD Craig Robertson - who bills his company as NZ's largest bike importer - says e-bikes are rising fast.
While his company is not in line to sell Harley's e-bike, he says it could do well given that there is a blizzard of no-name brands on the market. Consumers are looking for brands they can trust, and resellers for manufacturers they know will hold true to warranties, he says.
Harley hasn't released tech specs and pricing for its most basic e-bike yet. Robertson says basic models sell for around $1800, with the sweet spot being around $3500 to $4500. Top-of-the-line models sell for up to $17,000.
Why is Harley Davidson moving into e-bikes?
The NYSE-listed company went backwards last year as it made a net profit of US$521.8m on revenue of US$5.65b vs its year-ago profit of US$692.2m on US$6.00b revenue.
It has told shareholders its foray into electric bikes will add US$1b revenue (vs 2017) by 2022.