Harley-Davidson Inc. (HOG) is considering a green hog. It wants to know what you think about that.
The motorcycle maker, whose storied highway cruisers are as loud as they are large, will take 22 electric bikes on a U.S. tour starting next week to solicit reactions that will help shape the environmentally aware vehicle’s development, according to Bloomberg.
Or not. Depending on the feedback, the no-exhaust Harley may never make it out of R&D, said Mark-Hans Richer, chief marketing officer of the Milwaukee-based company.
“It’s how we like to explore product, through the eyes of our customers,” he said in an interview. “We couldn’t imagine this sitting on a turntable at a show with models handing out brochures. It needed to be something real, something that customers could have a first-hand experience with.”
Two fleets of the prototypes will be demonstrated in more than 30 cities starting June 24 in New York, the company said in a statement. People will be able to take the bike for a spin or sit astride one hooked to a machine that’ll simulate the riding experience, Richer said. The tour will continue next year in more U.S. cities and in Europe and Canada.
While Richer declined to comment on the electric bike’s power pack, or how many miles it can go without a charge, he said the prototype has a Harley sound. Unlike the classic rumble, it’s “high-toned, but still very strong,” he said, sort of like a fighter jet landing on an aircraft carrier.
“Whether it’s riding by or you’re riding on it, the sound needed to have an emotional character,” he said. “When you hear it go by, you say, ‘Wow. That’s cool.’”
If Harley does go green, it’ll compete against a handful of companies, including Brammo Inc. and Zero Motorcycles Inc. Global sales of electric motorcycles are expected to grow slightly, according to a report from Navigant Research, to 1.4 million annually in 2023 from 1.2 million this year.