Ray Wisher didn’t take a winning round on his own.
Waychar, the 1920s racing champion, was a member of Harley-Davidson (Pig) The “Wrecking Crew” team. When he and his teammates won an event, they would circle the track carrying the team’s talisman: a piglet.
There are so many pictures of Weishaar and his hog buddy that Harley-Davidson motorcycles have come to be called “hogs,” an association that has carried over into the company’s iconic bar code.
Harley-Davidson is now entering a new chapter as the company’s LiveWire electric motorcycle division is set to go public on September 26 through a merger with special purpose acquisition company AEA-Bridges Impact. (IMPX) .
This offering makes LiveWire the first electric bike company to go public. Shares of AEA-Bridges are up nearly 24% to $9.63 at the latest pick.
Harley introduced the LiveWire bike in 2014 and announced its plan to separate from the subsidiary last year.
When Harley unveiled the less expensive LiveWire S2 Del Mar in May, the first 100 units of the limited launch edition sold out in less than 18 minutes. The next round of bookings is scheduled to begin on September 27 at 9:30 a.m. ET.
“The World’s Most Desirable Brand”
Harley-Davidson said in June that LiveWire’s ambition is “to be the most desirable brand of electric motorcycles in the world.”
Harley is certainly not alone in its quest for electrification. Honda recently announced that it plans to introduce 10 electric motorcycles worldwide by 2025.
The Japanese company has said it wants to increase annual sales of electric models to 1 million units over the next five years, and 3.5 million units, or about 15% of total unit sales, as of 2030.
And there are plenty of other companies looking to grab market share, including BWM (BMWYY) and Zero and Energica.
How do things look there?
Peter Wells, Professor of Business and Sustainability at Cardiff University, sees the motorcycle as a kind of isolation in the field of electric cars.
“Electric bikes, unlike motorcycles, have thrived without government support for the simple reason that putting a modest battery in a bike makes the bike better for most people most of the time,” he said.
“Still the Wild Es”
“At the other end of the personal transportation spectrum, cars with batteries installed are heavier, more expensive and have less range than their gasoline or diesel counterparts,” he said. “Therefore, governments have injected positive policy incentives for consumers and industry in an effort to make the transition to battery electric vehicles a reality.”
Somewhere in between, he said, motorcycles — “unpopular with motorists, cyclists and pedestrians alike, with no significant industry lobbying power, and a ‘hard-core’ consumer base connected to the deep excitement of the motorbike experience.”
“In many respects, the electric motorcycle is better than the petrol version, but is this enough to compensate the riders for the loss of emotional engagement?” Wells said. “In those markets where motorcycles are more than just a blast on the weekend, one can imagine consumers are more diehard and less willing to embrace electrification.”
For now, said Charles Falco, a professor at the University of Arizona, “there are no big players in the electric motorcycle space, so it’s still the Wild West.”
Basically, he said, “relatively few people need a motorcycle for practical uses, which means most owners own it for leisure use.” “
Falco noted that the Harley demographic is about a year old every year, “with essentially all HD owners insisting on machines that have a certain look and sound that hasn’t changed in more than half a century.”
“Few of these elderly owners appear to be potential candidates to purchase an electric motorcycle despite having the HD logo on it,” he said. “At the same time, young motorcyclists and would-be riders are not interested in the HD logo, or even put off by having their grandfather.”
Falco believes Honda is in one of the best positions in the electric bike market.
“Unlike the HD, Honda customers are accustomed to offering machines with a wide range of shapes and specifications,” he said. “They have a good reputation for engineering, and Honda doesn’t have any negative stereotypes hanging over them that might prevent non-motorcyclists from considering one of their electric scooters.”
Harley-Davidson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.