Harley-Davidson's newest electric concept is aimed at city-dwellers - and could help the struggling brand to re-invent itself

HD Electric Concept 2.1Harley-Davidson

  • Harley-Davidson has declared that the future is electric - and it's quickly scaling up a pipeline of electric bikes.
  • Two new concepts released last week at the X-Games in Colorado wouldn't require a motorcycle licence, and can be charged on a normal wall plug.
  • Courting new riders, including city dwellers and millennials, is key to the company's turnaround plans.

Harley-Davidson is one of the most famous American brands, but its in bad need of a reinvention.

The motorcycle icon has seen four straight years of declining sales for its flagship two-wheelers. And despite being in first innings of a four-year revitalization plan, steep tariffs from President Donald Trump's ongoing trade war with China almost completely wiped out the company's profit for the final quarter of 2018.

Change is coming.

At the X-Games in Aspen, Colorado last week, Harley unveiled the latest concepts for its line of electric vehicles that it hopes will help recruit new riders to the 116-year-old brand.

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‘The Future has arrived — and its electric’

‘The Future has arrived — and its electric’

The first of the two new scooters has no clutch (goodbye, shifting) and is designed to not require a motorcycle license, should it come to market sometime soon.

Battery packs can be removed easily by hand, the company says, making it easier to move and charge. It can plug into any standard household power outlet.

Battery packs can be removed easily by hand, the company says, making it easier to move and charge. It can plug into any standard household power outlet.

The second of the two concepts looks more like a mountain bike than urban scooter.

The second of the two concepts looks more like a mountain bike than urban scooter.

Both models "embrace their electric powerplants" the company says, and "put raw emotions into the equation of the future" through unique designs.

Both models "embrace their electric powerplants" the company says, and "put raw emotions into the equation of the future" through unique designs.

Still, it won’t be easy for a few electric vehicles to turn the tides.

Still, it won’t be easy for a few electric vehicles to turn the tides.

Harley’s own investor presentation outlining the More Roads program says that electric motorcycles aren’t expected to achieve cost parity with internal combustion engine MC’s until 2030 at the earliest.

The company's "immediate future is not looking any brighter," David Beckel, an analyst at Bernstein, told clients last week of Harley's 2018 financials

LiveWire, Harley's first fully electric motorcycle to actually go on sale, should be available by the fall of 2019 in North America and Western Europe.

LiveWire, Harley's first fully electric motorcycle to actually go on sale, should be available by the fall of 2019 in North America and Western Europe.

"Getting great at delivering urban riding experiences is something that we see the future needing us to do," Marc McAllister, Harley-Davidson's vice president of product portfolio, told Business Insider earlier this year.

Read McAllister's full interview about Harley-Davidson's biggest opportunity for the LiveWire here.

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