Harley-Davidson LiveWire struggling to connect with younger buyers

The Harley-Davidson LiveWire has been tasked with reversing the American firm's fortunes but it is off to a slow start in the sales charts

Harley-Davidson LiveWire

The new Harley-Davidson LiveWire isn’t quite finding the new corners of motorcycle ownership that the American brand is banking on, according to dealers in the United States.

The all-new electric motorcycle, which recently went on sale in the US, has been tasked with reversing Harley-Davidson’s sales fortunes in the United States and around the globe, which have been on a steady decline for the last four years and are expected to come in lower again this year.

However, despite positive reviews and appreciation of Harley-Davidson’s attempts to future proof a business model that has largely relied on big engine, powerful motorcycles, Reuters reports that dealers are finding most interest from existing owners.

This is an issue for Harley-Davidson because it was hoped the LiveWire’s green ethos would help it tap into a younger, more eco-conscious audience base, citing the success enjoyed by the likes of Tesla in the automotive industry.

Indeed, according interviews with 40 of Harley-Davidson’s 150-strong network in the US, orders are coming in from older buyers and those who already own a Harley-Davidson.

What is putting buyers off the Harley-Davidson LiveWire?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the asking price of $29,799 (£25,500) is reportedly deterring its intended audience base, not least because it puts it in range of four-wheel models like the new Tesla Model 3 with its mass-produced technology, which in turn has helped drive down the price of electric cars.

By contrast, the electric motorcycle market is a largely untapped one, with the LiveWire having few rivals for now and targeting an audience base that is borne from market research more than trends.

For reference, the LiveWire’s most direct rival -  the Zero SR/F – is priced a full $10,000 less at $20,999. 

Though Harley-Davidson has long traded upon its premium image to offer motorcycles at the upper end of the pricing scale, the LiveWire is arguably a risk – albeit a calculated one – to take it down an alternative branding route.

Nevertheless, this freshness of both the model and the market means the LiveWire will likely take longer than most to find its corner, while Harley-Davidson will accept this is early days for a model such as this. 

It will also place more faith in the LiveWire’s sales around the world, particularly Europe, where the increasing shift towards greener transport – backed up by an ever-growing infrastructure – will make the machine more attractive as the market evolves.