Why electric shift is the resolution to Husqvarna and its identity crisis

The jury is still out on when motorcycling accepts an electric future but Husqvarna is well placed to be one of the first to plug into its potential

EDIT Husqvarna E-Pilen 2 copy 2.jpg

It has been seven years since Husqvarna was plucked from under the umbrella of BMW and brought across the border from Germany to Austria to a new home within the KTM fold

In that time it has grown into a brand that isn’t just associated with its dirt bikes and off-roader ‘rappers’, moving into ‘big bike’ territory with a range of nakeds - the Svartpilen and Vitpilen = that are as arresting to the eye as they are a mouthful to say.

It has been good for the Swedish company, which also makes its name selling chainsaws in a branding quirk bettered only by Benelli and its manufacturing of motorcycles and guns.

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However, while new models are on the horizon - including its first big adventure bike, the Norden 901 - and updates to the aforementioned nakeds that will herald a move from 401 to 501 engines, while the surface is certainly unique, underneath its all rather familiar and, well, dated.

No brand likes to be the child getting the hand me downs, how good the wares were when first used, but it gave the sense Pierer Mobility (the parent company formed from what is essentially KTM) hasn’t been able to grasp exactly how it plans to position a niche but in many ways brand new brand find its place in the world (well, market)

Which is precisely why Husqvarna would make such a good bedfellow with electric motorcycling, an interloper also trying to market itself to persist recoiling from a perceived future of zero emissions but also zero noise, character or pleasure. 

Husqvarna E-Pilen

This begins from 2022 when Husqvarna launches the E-Pilen, a low-mid displacement equivalent of a 125/250 motorcycle using an 11kW battery and - based on teasers - combining some of retro steampunk grandeur into a fresh direction befitting of its significance.

Since then we got our first glimpse of the Vektorr, Husqvarna’s first scooter (also electric) and now a leaked document suggests there is a whole range of models spinning off from the E-Pilen in the pipeline.

Listed under ‘entry’, though it isn’t entirely clear whether all four in this column - including the E-Pilen - are electric powered but based on the blurry silhouettes around it, one could suggest Husqvarna may be developing a whole line of E-Pilen models, such as a faired model or perhaps a cafe racer in the theme of the Vitpilen.

Husqvarna E-Pilen EV motorcyclle sketch 2022

Husqvarna poised to lead the motorcycle’s electric charge

These developments represent quite the ramp up in activity at Husqvarna and goes a long way to explaining why we haven’t heard much from it for a while.

It may also explain why the Norden 901 - though still an important model - has perhaps been shuffled down the priority list so this more traditional, larger engined and thirstier big bike doesn’t contradict Husqvarna’s ambitions when it comes to positioning itself as an electric champion.

This is an important moment for Husqvarna, which has certainly benefited and been strengthened from the attention and investment paid by KTM, but perhaps struggled to find its identity with models that are a discerning taste on the outside but familiar - or rather, ageing - KTMs on the inside.

As such, this is the first time Husqvarna is coming to market with a platform that will start life as a Husqvarna before KTM no doubt joins in on the act further down the line.

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Moreover, Husqvarna is probably the one mainstream manufacturer that stands to benefit most from a shift of company policy towards electric technology. 

A leftfield choice for any rider already, Husqvarna has room to experiment with its image and eclectic would seem to play into the very nature orientated culture of its home nation/region, while it doesn’t hurt that Sweden is much further down the line towards electrification than any other. 

With manufacturers hesitating on committing to an electric plan, all eyes will be on Husqvarna to see if it can become a major electric motorcycle player before the rest join in.

As for what to expect from the E-Pilen itself, there isn’t much to go on from that slide, while we could stare at those blurry silhouettes all day thinking we’ll make a breakthrough (though we will probably find out they are just stock placeholder images).