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Harley-Davidson invests in electric motorcycle startup Alta Motors ahead of launching its own electric bike

Just a few weeks after Harley-Davidson finally confirmed that it plans on bringing its first electric motorcycle to market next year, the company now announces an investment in Alta Motors to accelerate its electrification effort.

Alta Motors, formerly known as BRD Motorcycles, is a small electric motorcycle startup based in Silicon Valley and backed financially by Tesla co-founders Marc Tarpenning and Martin Eberhard.

They have a lower profile than other companies in the same space like Zero Motorcycles because they have been focusing on off-road bikes.

But nonetheless, they have been developing a battery pack and overall electric powertrain expertise for years and they now have a whole lineup of bikes.

Now, Harley-Davidson will be able to take advantage of that expertise thanks to an investment of an undisclosed amount announced today.

Harley President and CEO Matt Levatich commented:

“Earlier this year, as part of our 10-year strategy, we reiterated our commitment to build the next generation of Harley-Davidson riders, in part, by aggressively investing in electric vehicle (EV) technology. Alta has demonstrated innovation and expertise in EV and their objectives align closely with ours. We each have strengths and capabilities that will be mutually beneficial as we work together to develop cutting-edge electric motorcycles.”

He reiterated the company’s commitment to electrification made earlier this year:

“We believe that EV is where global mobility is headed and holds great appeal for existing riders as well as opportunity to bring new riders into the sport. We intend to be the world leader in the electrification of motorcycles and, at the same time, remain true to our gas and oil roots by continuing to produce a broad portfolio of motorcycles that appeal to all types of riders around the world.”

Alta Motors Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder, Marc Fenigstein, also commented on the announcement:

“Riders are just beginning to understand the combined benefits of EV today, and our technology continues to progress. We believe electric motorcycles are the future, and that American companies have an opportunity to lead that future. It’s incredibly exciting that Harley-Davidson, synonymous with motorcycle leadership, shares that vision and we’re thrilled to collaborate with them.”

We should start to see the result of that collaboration as soon as next year.

Electrek’s Take

It sounds like good news for both companies. Alta could probably use Harley’s deeper pockets and Harley could use Alta’s electric powertrain expertise.

Harley has been sitting on its Livewire electric motorcycle concept for the past 4 years with little indication of any other development.

Until the announcement in January, it looked like the electric revolution was passing them by. Now there might be hope after all, but I am interested to see how the collaboration will turn out because it will be a big change in strategy for Alta.

They have been focused on lightweight bikes with a small 5.8 kWh battery pack. It’s good for a few hours of fun off-road, but it’s not nearly enough for cruising.

A new battery pack with more energy capacity is going to be required for Harley’s electric motorcycle.

I can’t wait to see what they will come up with.

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