Leasing is uncommon for motorcycles, but it might be just the ticket here.
The Harley-Davidson LiveWire hasn't exactly been flying off showroom floors. We very much enjoyed it, but Harley has been struggling to find a market for it. No doubt its $29,799 price has a great deal to do with that, particularly when a comparable Zero SR/F costs $21,495. Cycletron has an idea that might just help Harley start moving bikes out of showrooms and into customers' hands: leasing.
A typical car lease will charge you the difference between a new car's purchase price and the residual value, which is how much the car is worth when the duration of the lease is up. Add a bunch of interest and fees, make a decent down payment, and the car is yours for a low monthly payment. Of course, the residual value of a LiveWire is hard to determine because there's nothing comparable to a three-year-old LiveWire for sale right now.
Typically leases don't exist for motorcycles. For most people, they're not a must-have everyday item the way a car is. Cycletron crunches the numbers for how a LiveWire lease might work, though, and it makes a certain amount of sense. Because Harley is trying to move motorcycles, it could set a relatively high residual value to make a lease more affordable. Round the purchase price to $30,000 to make the math easy. Let's say it's worth $23,000 in three years. Add fees and interest, and let's call the total charge for a LiveWire lease $9,000. Divide that by 36 months, and you're talking $250 a month to ride a LiveWire. That's not bad at all.
There are many people interested in the LiveWire who simply can't afford one. A lease option would enable some of them to try it out for a few years. They wouldn't have to worry about unknown long-term reliability or the expense of replacing the battery one day. When the lease is up, they could buy the bike, swap it for a brand new one, or walk away.
For Harley's part, this would take the LiveWires still lingering on showroom floors out of there and make room for new inventory. It would put more of these bikes on the road, making them more visible, and possibly drumming up more interest in LiveWire sales or leases. I don't know about you, but I've never seen a LiveWire in the wild, only at dealers and shows. It would also be an opportunity for Harley to save face by not dropping its high purchase price. It would be easier and look better to absorb such a loss on a used LiveWire when leases are up than by dropping the price on a new model that isn't selling.
Leases have never appealed to me, personally. When I buy a car or motorcycle, I can't leave it alone and have to modify it to my heart's content. Typical Harley owners do this as well, as shown by the vast aftermarket for these bikes. The LiveWire is not a typical Harley, though. Perhaps it's time to consider less typical ways to put them into customers' hands.