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Harley-Davidson: Electric motorcycle division coming as part of sweeping recovery plan

The iconic American company posted a near $100 million quarterly loss, but wants to turn things around with an eye on the future.

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Harley-Davidson Layoffs

Harley-Davidson seeks success and pins big hopes on electric bikes.

Craig Cole/Roadshow/Harley-Davidson

Harley-Davidson remains in troubling shape as it works to bring in a new generation of motorcyclists. That kicked off with the LiveWire electric motorcycle, but it's going to continue as the company announced a dedicated electric motorcycle division is coming on Tuesday.

The division is part of a massive turnaround effort titled the Hardwire Strategic Plan. Like any turnaround plans, it targets long-term growth and profits, but in Harley's case, it wants to work on the desirability factor, too. This will include a broader "view of its customer" with work to include traditional non-riders. 

Specific to the electric motorcycle division, this operation will serve the company's future as it looks into new technologies and defines who these future machines are for. Perhaps Harley's traditional rider simply isn't interested in an electric hog. In that case, the company needs to look elsewhere. That's where the whole idea of looking at "traditional non-riders" comes in.

However, the motorcycle maker won't only focus on electric bikes. It also plans for a new certified preowned program to bring more riders into the fold and plans for investments into traditional bikes such as its growing-in-popularity trikes, the Touring line and large Cruiser. Harley also wants to make a massive push to provide riders with a one-stop-shop parts, accessories and riding gear. This comes with the decision to pull all of its merchandise from Amazon, which the company said choked sales for its own dealer base, according to comments Harley-Davidson's CEO, Jochen Zeitz, made during an interview with Bloomberg.

Harley's at an infliction point, and it will be mighty interesting how the company's fortunes unfold throughout this decade. Who knows, maybe its forthcoming e-bike will be a smash hit outside of traditional motorcycles .

Harley-Davidson's LiveWire is the sporty electric streetbike we need

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Watch this: Is Harley-Davidson's LiveWire worth the money?
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Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.

Updated Feb. 4, 2021 7:36 a.m. PT

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Written by  Sean Szymkowski
CNET staff -- not advertisers, partners or business interests -- determine how we review the products and services we cover. If you buy through our links, we may get paid. Reviews ethics statement
sean-szymkowski-headshot
Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
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