As Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Harley-Davidson, Mark-Hans Richer, has, as they say, a lot on his plate. A new platform in the shape of the two Street models, 750 and 500, the Project LiveWire Experience Tour currently underway, an updated model lineup for 2016 in the pipeline, and certainly goings-on that only the need-to-know know, is enough to keep ten people busy. Nonetheless, Mr. Richer kindly set a little time aside to speak with MO and confirm that everything for the Motor Company is going swimmingly.
If you’re curious about Harley’s polished, electric-bike skunkworks prototype, Project LiveWire you’re in luck. There remain three dates on the Project LiveWire Experience Tour where you can ride one yourself. According to Richer, these events have been well-attended by a diverse crowd of enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts.
Richer says the Live Wire’s reception has been outstanding, adding he’s seen a variety of customers, from core enthusiasts to even a few one-percenters attending the events. Richer says getting feedback to the nature of how an electric Harley-Davidson motorcycle intersects with the needs of the electric motorcycle market is important. He says there certainly is interest in an electric Harley-Davidson, but notes that electric motorcycle technology still has a long way to go in terms of range, weight and price.
If you’ve seen the Project LiveWire bike in person or in photos it’s obvious H-D engineers invested much effort into designing an electric bike style that’s complementary to the company’s internal combustion offerings. There’s also much to be said about the sound of the LiveWire bike.
Richer says Harley engineers worked hard to generate a sound that’s different from internal combustion but one that remains organic, not manufactured, and that customer reactions have been incredibly positive in regards to the sophistication of the bike’s styling.
Harley’s newest platform of motorcycles, the Street 500 and Street 750, seem to be accomplishing exactly what H-D’s master planners had in mind when they green-lighted the two price-leading models – global expansion.
There are lots of ways of getting people into Harley-Davidson, says Richer. With the Street models H-D is just trying to find more ways of reaching people and Richer says it’s working. He says Street models are selling well here in the US, but Bar & Shield’s reach outside US borders has more than doubled in the last couple years. He continues, saying the Street models have received great initial response in Asia and have helped Harley become the number one selling brand in Australia.
With those kinds of positive indicators it seems obvious that Harley-Davidson will want to build upon the success of the Street platform. In what way Harley chooses to configure new models of Street motorcycles, though, remains a mystery.
With any new platform it won’t be surprising to see an expansion of what’s available in the future, says Richer, but Harley-Davidson sees lots of trends around the world and how they go forward will be determined as much by global influences as well as domestic ones.
The 2017 Harley-Davidson Street 750 Rickshaw? We’re not betting on it, but it’s certainly exciting to see how Harley develops the Street as well as the Project LiveWire platforms. And who knows what else the Motor Company has in store. The motorcycle industry was blindsided by the announcement of Project LiveWire so it’s anyone’s guess what frankenbike projects are being developed in subterranean Milwaukee. Richer, of course, wasn’t commenting on any that.