It's been a pretty busy month or so for Harley-Davidson. First the company dropped a bomb on the motoring world with the announcement of new, decidedly non-Harley products like the Pan American, the Streetfighter, and the LiveWire. Then there was the 115th anniversary party, the new CVO bikes, plans for storefront-based brand outreach, the unveiling of the bonkers FXDR 114—all kinds of crazy stuff. Now, not content to rest on its laurels, the Motor Company just dropped some electrifying news on us about a new research and development facility in NorCal.
What's this all about, then? Well, in the Big Announcement with the Pan America and all that, Harley also announced that the LiveWire would be the anchor for a whole product line of electric motorcycles bearing the orange and black livery. Thing is, building small, agile electric dirt bikes and runabouts is way different than building a big bike like the LiveWire, let alone 45-degree V-twins in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. That's why Harley has bowed to fate and announced the opening of a new high-tech research and development center out in Silicon Valley. Would you like to know more? Of course you would.
Press Release Follows
Harley-Davidson, Inc. announced today it will establish a new research and development facility in Northern California to support its future product portfolio, including the company’s first complete line of electric vehicles.
Harley's dedication to EVs involved more than just LiveWire.
“Recently we shared with the world our accelerated plans to build the next generation of Harley-Davidson riders globally,” said Matt Levatich, President and CEO of Harley-Davidson, Inc. “This new R&D facility in the heart of Silicon Valley will help us deliver on those plans and demonstrate our commitment to lead the electrification of the sport.”
In July, Harley-Davidson shared details of its “More Roads to Harley-Davidson” growth plan. Through this accelerated plan, the company is expanding the Harley-Davidson community through new products, broader access and stronger dealers.
As part of that strategy, Harley-Davidson will launch its first electric motorcycle, LiveWire™, in 2019. That motorcycle will be the first in a broad, no-clutch “twist and go” portfolio of electric two-wheelers designed by the company. It will be followed by additional models through 2022 to broaden the portfolio with lighter, smaller and even more accessible product options to inspire new riders with new ways to ride.
The new facility in California, which will serve as a satellite of the Willie G. Davidson Product Development Facility in Wauwatosa, Wis., is expected to open in the fourth quarter of 2018. It will initially focus on electric vehicle research and development, including battery, power electronics and e-machine design, development and advanced manufacturing. Long term, the company may consider expanding the center’s focus to an increased range of advanced technologies that uniquely leverage the rich talent in the Silicon Valley and support its most comprehensive and competitive lineup of motorcycles across a broad spectrum of price points, power sources and riding styles.
The company has already begun recruiting top talent in electrical, mechanical and software engineering, with experience in developing and delivering a wide variety of EV systems from design through production. The facility will initially employ a staff of approximately 25, most of which the company intends to hire from within the Silicon Valley area.
“This is an exciting time in Harley-Davidson’s incredible history, and it’s also an exciting time to join our company and help shape our future,” said Levatich.