Harley-Davidson Invests in Electric Motorcycle Maker Alta Motors

Dennis Chung
by Dennis Chung

Harley-Davidson and Alta Motors to work together on future electric models beyond Project LiveWire

(Update: We’ve received some clarification from Harley-Davidson: the product of Project LiveWire is on track for 2019, but the arrangement with Alta Motors is for new electric models beyond the LiveWire. This story has been updated to reflect this information.)

Harley-Davidson announced it is working with Alta Motors to develop and design new electric motorcycles. Harley has made an equity investment into the California-based maker of the Redshift electric motorcycles, and the two companies will collaborate on future electric Harley-Davidson models. Terms of the deal were not released.

Based on trademark filings Motorcycle.com was first to report on last month, we expected Harley-Davidson will used the name H-D Revelation to refer to an electric powertrain; it’s likely this will be used to brand the Project LiveWire powertrain, but it’s not clear if the brand will be shared with the fruits of the collaboration with Alta.

NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 23: Harley-Davidson riders reveal Project LiveWire, the first electric Harley-Davidson motorcycle during a special ride across the iconic Manhattan Bridge. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

“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 (EV) technology,” says Matt Levatich, president and chief executive officer of Harley-Davidson. “Alta has demonstrated innovation and expertise in EV and their objectives align closely with ours. We each have strengths and capabilities that will be mutually beneficial as we work together to develop cutting-edge electric motorcycles.”

When Harley-Davidson first announced Project LiveWire in 2014, it offered few details about its powertrain. The LiveWire prototype claimed 75 hp and 52 lb-ft. of torque and a 0-60 mph time of less than four seconds. Alta’s Redshift models claim just 42 hp but a significantly higher peak torque output of 120 lb-ft. The big question is range. The LiveWire prototype had a claimed range of 53 miles, while lead engineer Jeff Richlen said a minimum range of 100 miles would be necessary to be a viable option for consumers.

The collaboration with Harley-Davidson is huge news for Alta, a relatively young company that’s working to establish itself in the motorcycle industry.

“Riders are just beginning to understand the combined benefits of EV today, and our technology continues to progress,” says Marc Fenigstein, Alta Motors chief product officer and co-founder. “We believe electric motorcycles are the future, and that American companies have an opportunity to lead that future. It’s incredibly exciting that Harley-Davidson, synonymous with motorcycle leadership, shares that vision and we’re thrilled to collaborate with them.”

For Harley-Davidson, the arrangement immediately gives them a boost in EV technology. It also brings them closer to rival Polaris which had gained an advantage when it acquired Brammo‘s electric motorcycle technology.

“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.”

Dennis Chung
Dennis Chung

Dennis has been a part of the Motorcycle.com team since 2008, and through his tenure, has developed a firm grasp of industry trends, and a solid sense of what's to come. A bloodhound when it comes to tracking information on new motorcycles, if there's a new model on the horizon, you'll probably hear about it from him first.

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2 of 17 comments
  • Sayyed Bashir Sayyed Bashir on Mar 04, 2018

    Zero is pissed. The writing is on the wall. Its value must have tanked.

    The following is a statement from Zero Motorcycles CEO Sam Paschel on Harley-Davidson’s investment in Alta and entrance into the electric motorcycle space:

    “For the past 12 years, we have not just been selling motorcycles, we’ve been leading the movement and we’ve been helping to create the category of electric motorcycles. Competition is necessary for our category and the movement to grow. As the global leader in electric motorcycle sales and innovation, we welcome the challenge and believe our business will benefit from a respected brand entering the space. We have 12 years of R&D, manufacturing and sales experience that we will use to maintain our competitive advantage.”

  • Exo Skeletal Exo Skeletal on Mar 04, 2018

    Kind of curious if any of the motorcycle industry is working towards standardization of battery packs in terms of standardized form factor. At some point we're all going to want to go more than 100 miles and we're going to want to pull into a fuel station and swap out a battery pack in a minute or two so that we can get on down the road. I kind of wonder if we'll see the rebirth of the full service station...