Charging stations, Formula E racing among Harley’s new customer connections

Dealers are installing charging stations for Livewire motorcycles

Harley-Davidson’s Livewire motorcycle has been years in the making, but the Milwaukee-based company’s entry into the electric vehicle market is already providing new opportunities to connect with potential customers.

Dealers are installing charging stations for Livewire motorcycles

The production Livewire will launch in August, but around 100 dealerships are currently taking pre-orders for the electric bike. The dealerships are also installing DC fast charging stations at their stores, which comes with added benefits for dealership owners.

“They’re starting to see people in cars seek out the dealerships because they’ve got faster charging capabilities,” Levatich said, noting a dealer in San Antonio noticed more people coming in to shop after installing the DC charging station.

Harley has made attracting new riders one of its top priorities, targeting 2 million new riders in the United States by 2027. Levatich said Tuesday the company is making progress toward that goal, adding 278,000 new riders last year. According to the company’s data, the group is the most diverse across age, ethnicity and gender since it started tracking those metrics in 2001. Harley also says retail sales to 18- to 34-year-old buyers increased 2.6 percentage points in the first quarter of this year.

Part of Harley’s goal in launching an electric motorcycle is to expand the appeal of its brand to more potential customers who otherwise might not buy a Harley. Levatich noted the brand “is increasingly showing up in relevant and unexpected places.”

The company unveiled details of the Livewire bike at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, signed on as a sponsor of the World Surf League earlier this month and on Tuesday announced its sponsorship of Envision Virgin Racing, a Formula E race team based in the United Kingdom.

Formula E is the first fully electric racing series and Envision Virgin is currently second in the 2019 championship. The team has eight wins and 23 podiums since it started and was the first team to win in all five years of the series.

“The sponsorship reflects Harley-Davidson’s commitment and excitement to lead in the rapidly evolving EV mobility space, and enthusiasm to share evocative and new electric-powered performance experiences with a growing global audience,” a joint press release from the team and Harley said.

On the younger, and slightly slower, end of the spectrum, Harley also recently acquired SyaCyc, a maker of electric-powered two-wheelers for children.

“We’re serious about leading electrification of motorcycling as part of inspiring the next generation to ride and to firmly rooting our place in the future of mobility,” Levatich said.

He also hinted the company electric lineup “soon will include an innovative entry in the large and growing pedal-assist electric bicycle market.”

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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