Harley-Davidson unveiled on Monday its first ever electric motorcycles and an electric bicycle, in what is being seen as the most radical shakeup of the struggling company in its 115-year-history.
Matt Levatich, CEO of the Milwaukee-based company, said the new products were designed in response to changing times.
The electric motorcycle range will include several of what Mr Levatich called “lightweight, urban” transportation products that are designed specifically to appeal to “young adults, globally, living in dense urban spaces.”
In 2014 the company signalled its interest in electric motorbikes with the LiveWire electric prototype, which will go on sale next summer. Earlier this year the company announced an investment in electric motorcycle company Alta Motors.
On Monday they presented as many as five more electric models - including lightweight, urban bikes – which will be on sale by 2022.
They also unveiled their electric bicycle.
The company revealed plans to promote its motorbikes in emerging markets, with a small motorcycle model introduced in India in the next two years; a series of middleweight bikes in 2020 in Europe; and an expansion of ranges and distribution in China.
At the same time, the company will attempt to retain market dominance with the classic Harleys - full-size touring and cruiser motorcycles - that are the backbone of its international sales.
“We are shifting our mindset from ‘we build bikes’ to ‘we build riders,’” said Mr Levatich, 53, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.
He also defended his company’s decision, much criticised by President Donald Trump, to meet increased European Union tariffs by expanding production operations overseas.
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“Our preference is to make motorcycles in the US for the world market,” he said.
“But at the same time, we have to protect our business and preserve our market strength and serve our customers.”
The company says that its new models are a survival strategy.
According to its 2018 second-quarter report, released last week, Harley domestic sales fell 6.4 per cent from the same period in 2017.
“This whole plan to create new riders is a bold, ambitious and bordering-on-audacious goal,” said Mr Levatich.
“But there is no other option.”