Harley-Davidson is changing tactics with its electric motorcycle business. Less than two years after launching its LiveWire battery bike, Harley-Davidson is now launching an all-electric brand that carries the LiveWire name.

As per Harley-Davidson’s press release:

Harley-Davidson, Inc. (“Harley-Davidson”) (NYSE: HOG) today announces the launch of LiveWire as an all-electric motorcycle brand.

LiveWire is more than a motorcycle. LiveWire plans to redefine electric, delivering the best experience for the urban rider, with personality and soul. LiveWire creates a unique connection between rider and vehicle. Today, the next chapter in the LiveWire journey begins.

Well. No doubt some people had a crystal ball that predicted this, but to many casual onlookers, this is a complete surprise. So, what will the new brand look like?

The press release gives us some hints. Along with the usual boilerplate (“an agile disruptor from the lineage of Harley-Davidson, capitalizing on a decade of learnings in the EV sector and the heritage of the most desirable motorcycle brand in the world“), the presser says the LiveWire brand will focus on more than just motorcycles. It says “With an initial focus on the urban market, LiveWire will pioneer the electric motorcycle space, and beyond.”

LiveWire will operate as an independent brand, available at participating Harley-Davidson dealers who want to buy in. It will also have its own dedicated EV showrooms. Harley-Davidson appears keen to focus on new online selling tactics, saying “an innovative go-to-market model will blend digital and physical retail formats, tailoring the experience to the local market and allowing customers to discover LiveWire on their own terms.”

The new company will have a “virtual HQ” says the press release, with hubs in California’s Silicon Valley as well as Harley-Davidson’s Milwaukee hometown. Sounds like bold moves forward, but LiveWire isn’t throwing out the baby with the bathwater. “LiveWire expects to benefit from Harley-Davidson’s engineering expertise, manufacturing footprint, supply chain infrastructure, and global logistics capabilities,” the presser tells us.

And so the press release goes, filled with talk about the the technology of tomorrow. We’ll know more when the new brand launches its first bike on July 8, with the machine unveiled at the International Motorcycle Show on July 9. For now, you can head over to LiveWire.com and sign up for updates.

Why this move?

No doubt this is part of H-D CEO Jochen Zeitz’s plan to rejuvenate Harley-Davidson without alienating the traditionalist customer base, but there could be another practical reason for this move. When the LiveWire debuted, dealers selling the bike were required to install expensive EV charging infrastructure, and some were reluctant to do so … or, errrrr, so we heard. Obviously, this would be an expensive proposition if the dealership didn’t sell many of the electric motorcycles. So, this means dealers can carry the complete H-D lineup without their customers nagging them about the LiveWire. A dealer can choose to go all-in on the new LiveWire brand, or they can abstain altogether. Smart, really!

It also makes it easier for Harley-Davidson to explore other space, without involving its primary brand name. E-bikes, or other urban mobility gadgetry. There’s a huge future here, and LiveWire can easily pick up a big chunk of that business now.

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