Harley-Davidson “is going to be all-electric,” says the CEO of the brand’s future

Harley-Davidson was one of the first major motorcycle manufacturers to offer electric motorcycles in the last decade. So it’s no wonder that the company’s CEO, Jochen Zeitz, is already saying that the future of the brand will be 100% electric.

It won’t happen overnight, rather it will likely take decades for the Bar-and-Shield motorcycle company to go all-electric.

This is how Zeitz recently described the transition in an interview deceen.

“Eventually, Harley Davidson will be purely electric,” he explained. “But this is a long-term transition that needs to happen. You don’t do that overnight.”

livewire S2 Del Mar Harley-Davidson
LiveWire S2 Del Mar electric motorcycle from HD’s electric sub-brand

Of course, with a design heritage stretching back well over a century, Harley-Davidson is best known for its noisy, high-capacity internal combustion engine (ICE) motorcycles. However, the company’s past was also shaped by constant further development, Zeitz continued.

“If you look back over the past 120 years, the company has always evolved and never stood still,” he explains. “Well, just like the founders did back then by trying to reinvent or reinvent something unique, obviously that’s something we as a corporate brand need to do as well. We celebrate our past, but at the same time continue to develop the brand. It’s a natural progression that had to happen.”

Zeitz is not afraid of big changes, even for a brand with a heritage as rich as Harley-Davidson.

“I believe in big transformative change for iconic brands, which is what I’ve always done in my life,” he said.

Harley-Davidson Livewire electric motorcycle

Harley-Davidson’s first electric motorcycle, known as the livewire, rolled into customers’ garages for the first time in 2019 after the motorcycle EICMA debut 2018.

Harley-Davidson then decided to spin off its electric motorcycle operations under a new sub-brand. also called LiveWire. The first model under LiveWire, the LiveWire One, was inherited from HD’s first electric motorcycle and was mostly just rebranded under the new sub-brand.

Now LiveWire is in the process of bringing its second model into production, the LiveWire S2 from Marchdesigned as a mass-market electric motorcycle aimed at reaching younger, more urban riders.

livewire a harley-davidson

Electrek’s take

As much as some die-hard, old-school Harley-Davidson fans might want to protest, the fact that the brand will eventually go all-electric is a foregone conclusion. Eventually it will either go electric or go out of business. This applies not only to HD, but to all car manufacturers that currently produce vehicles with internal combustion engines.

So it’s no surprise that HD needs to go electric. What’s more surprising is that the company says the quiet part out loud.

But Zeitz has been a champion of the brand’s electric endeavors since taking the reins as part of a corporate reorganization, and so he would be the one to speak out directly without hiding behind vagueness and exaggeration.

However, if we accept the notion that electrification is inevitable, even if it takes decades to arrive, what does that mean for Harley and its LiveWire sub-brand? Will Harley-Davidson cease to exist and LiveWire take over all of Harley’s activities? Is Harley-Davidson Taking LiveWire Back Into The Fold As If The Fork Never Happened?

It will be an awkward day of reckoning when it arrives. But make no mistake about it will arrive.


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