CEO Jochen Zeitz Discusses the Natural Evolution of Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Company towards Electric Mobility.
Harley-Davidson is moving towards becoming an all-electric brand, according to CEO Jochen Zeitz, but the transition will take time. The company, known for its large-engine, heavyweight cruiser motorcycles, launched its first electric motorcycle, the LiveWire, in 2018, and Zeitz sees electrification as the next logical step in the brand’s 120-year history.
“At some point in time, Harley Davidson will be all-electric,” he said. “But that’s a long-term transition that needs to happen. It’s not something you do overnight.” He told Dezeen in an interview.
“If you look at the past 120 years, the company has always evolved, never stood still,” he added. “Now, like the founders did at the time by trying to reinvent or invent something unique, that’s obviously something that we as a company brand need to do as well.”
Since the launch of the LiveWire, Harley-Davidson has been gradually expanding its electrification efforts, with the release of the LiveWire ONE in 2021, and spin off of the LiveWire brand into its own independent entity. The company also plans to release a line of electric middleweight bikes, the S2 Del Mar, and is cooperating with KYMCO to produce S3 lightweight machines.
Zeitz said the brand’s transformation means focusing on people who may not typically ride large motorcycles, and even those who do not ride at all. “We are targeting different consumer profiles – you have the traditional core customer, but you have a contemporary core customer, you have dreamers that aspire to ride or may just dream about the brand,” he said.
The company’s timeline for becoming fully electric is longer than that of many other automotive companies, such as Volvo, Fiat, Mercedes, Buick, Bentley and Rolls-Royce, which have announced plans to be all-electric by 2030. “It takes decades, right? But you have to also think in decades rather than just thinking about what year and the short-termism that everyone is exposed to as a public company,” Zeitz said.
As part of the brand’s latest evolution and to mark its 120th anniversary, Harley-Davidson is revamping its offices in Milwaukee. The first stage of the redevelopment will be the creation of a public park that will include an amphitheater that can hold 700 motorcycles, designed by Heatherwick Studio.