Harley-Davidson Invests in Alta Motors

Amid realigning operations, which includes the shut down of its Kansas City manufacturing facility, Harley-Davidson has announced another initiative to attract a younger demographic and capitalize the future of electric motorcycling.

Harley-Davidson announced March 1 that it has invested in Alta Motors, an electric motorcycle startup based in Brisbane, Calif.

Since launching in 2010, Alta Motors has raised over $43 million. The highlight of its current lineup is the RedShift MXR, a 50-horsepower electric motocross bike.

Harley-Davidson Continues Electric Charge; Invests in Alta Motors
Harley-Davidson Project LiveWire, which is set for a 2019 release

With Harley’s equity investment (amount not reported), the two American companies will collaborate to create electric motorcycles that will help The Motor Company reach a different demographic other than its most popular one – the aging Baby Boomers.

Alta Motors will benefit as much as Harley-Davidson. The electric-motorcycle company will now be in the Harley-Davidson ecosystem, the Alta brand now exposed to thousands of new prospective customers.

“Earlier this year, as part of our 10-year strategy, we reiterated our commitment to build the next generation of Harley-Davidson riders, in part, by aggressively investing in electric vehicle technology,” says Harley-Davidson President and CEO Matt Levatich.

“Alta has demonstrated innovation and expertise in EV and their objectives align closely with ours,” Levatich said. “We each have strengths and capabilities that will be mutually beneficial as we work together to develop cutting-edge electric motorcycles.”

Harley’s 10-year plan includes a goal of 100 new motorcycles by 2027. Last week, Harley-Davidson released two new Sportster models involved in this that are aimed at the younger riders – the Iron 1200 and Forty-Eight Special.

In regards to electric motorcycles, Harley’s first attempt, titled Project LiveWire, is set for a 2019 release.

“Riders are just beginning to understand the combined benefits of EV today, and our technology continues to progress,” says Alta Motors Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder Marc Fenigstein.

“We believe electric motorcycles are the future, and that American companies have an opportunity to lead that future,” Fenigstein said. “It’s incredibly exciting that Harley-Davidson, synonymous with motorcycle leadership, shares that vision and we’re thrilled to collaborate with them.”

Harley-Davidson’s press release says as electric-drive innovation brings new levels of ease, accessibility and control, Harley-Davidson and Alta Motors aim to attract new audiences who are inspired by motorcycles and drawn to the “twist-and-go” ease and exhilaration of an electric motorcycle with no gears or clutch.

“We believe that EV is where global mobility is headed and holds great appeal for existing riders as well as opportunity to bring new riders into the sport,” says Levatich. “We intend to be the world leader in the electrification of motorcycles and, at the same time, remain true to our gas and oil roots by continuing to produce a broad portfolio of motorcycles that appeal to all types of riders around the world.”

In regards to financials, when the 2017 fourth-quarter numbers were in, Harley-Davidson worldwide retail motorcycle sales declined 9.6 percent compared to the same quarter in 2016. U.S. retail motorcycle sales were down 11.1 percent in Q4, although Harley-Davidson continued to own 50.8 percent of the US market share in the 601+cc segment.

Harley noted that overall motorcycle industry sales were down 6.5 percent in Q4 compared to the previous year.