Harley-Davidson (Harley) and IBM have jointly announced their new partnership to bring Harley’s HD Connect service to life.  H-D Connect is a connected app for Harley’s new LiveWire electric motorcycle.

Harley joined IBM to reveal how the LiveWire’s H-D Connect service will deliver new mobility and concierge services today and in the future.  Built on the IBM Cloud, Harley and IBM explained how the company is expanding the use of artificial intelligence (AI) analytics and Internet of Things (IoT) to enhance a rider’s motorcycling experience.

Transforming the riding experience

Harley believes that to capture the next generation of motorcycle riders, they must transform the everyday riding experience through the use of the latest technologies and features.  Harley’s H-D Connect is one means of capturing the latest generation of riders.

Harley-Davidson LiveWire Connected IBM Cloud

Harley-Davidson’s LiveWire electric motorcycle will be connected to the IBM Cloud.

Harley’s LiveWire electric motorcycle will be a “connected” motorcycle.  The H-D Connect service provides cellular connectivity and links a LiveWire owner to their motorcycle.  Using the rider’s smartphone, the IBM Cloud and Harley’s app,  riders will be provided with new services and insights not available to non-connected motorcycles.

Marc McAllister, Harley-Davidson VP Product Planning and Portfolio said:

“LiveWire is a fully cellular-connected electric motorcycle, and we needed a partner that could deliver mobility solutions that would meet riders’ changing expectations, as well as enhance security.  With IBM we have struck the balance between using data to create both intelligent and personal experiences, while maintaining privacy and security.”

H-D Connect services

H-D Connect and the IBM Cloud will provide services such as:

  • The ability to check the motorcycle’s vitals at any time or location.  Available information includes things such as range, battery health, and charge level.  Riders will also be able to see the location of charging stations and the motorcycle’s current location.
  • A security function which sends an alert to the owner’s phone if the motorcycle has been bumped, tampered with or moved.  With police assistance, a GPS-enabled stolen vehicle assistance function will give owners the ability to find the motorcycle’s location.
  • Provide reminders about upcoming maintenance requirements and “other care notifications”.  Owners will also receive service reminders and safety or recall notifications.

The LiveWire will use cell phone technology.

According to Venkatesh Iyer, Vice President, North America IoT and Connected Solutions, Global Business Services, IBM:

“The next generation of Harley-Davidson riders will demand a more engaged and personalized customer experience.  Introducing enhanced capabilities via the IBM Cloud will not only enable new services immediately, but will also provide a roadmap for the journey ahead.”

Will technology drive purchase decisions?

While this sort of connected technology is interesting, I have to ask whether these technologies will really drive purchase decisions.  While the implementation may be different, these types of services are already available on automobiles as standard and often without any additional monthly/yearly charges.  Some are already available for motorcycles as well.  Harley has already said that some of the aforementioned services will be at extra cost.

Since certain parts of these services are available only in certain markets, the usefulness of the services comes into question.  The service will also require cellular connectivity, so if you live or travel to an area without cell coverage, you are out of luck.

I really want to like the “connected” motorcycle idea.  But for now, I just can’t see how useful it will be.  Will Harley’s clientele will be OK paying monthly/yearly fees for this service.  Especially after they have handed over nearly $30,000 for an electric motorcycle.

Time will tell.


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