Polaris doesn't rule out making an electric motorcycle to challenge Harley-Davidson

Brian Sozzi
·Editor-at-Large
·3 min read

Bring it on, Harley.

With the ink not dry yet on a splashy deal between electric motorcycle upstart Zero Motorcycles (known to industry insiders as the ‘Tesla of motorcycles’) and Polaris to supply the latter with EV technology, Polaris (PII) CEO Scott Wine is pondering a day soon where its Indian motorcycle brand (and major Harley-Davidson foe) has an electric offering.

“Zero has proven they know how to do this. Certainly we have had discussions about motorcycles. We said let’s put that aside for a while,” said Wine on Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade. “But we just went through our long-range planning and I can tell you that certainly there was a good bit of dialogue about what electrification looks like in India and we are thrilled that we have got the perfect partner to do it the right way.”

Polaris’ tie up with Zero puts it in prime position to capitalize on Harley’s electric bike stumbles.

Harley’s first electric bike, dubbed the Livewire, debuted in October 2019 after at least five years in development. It was a key part of Harley’s plan to release 100 new “high impact” bikes by 2027 in an effort to attract new riders — several of the bikes were electric and smaller, targeting urban millennials.

Livewire boasted impressive specs out of the gate as Harley tried to set the bar for the industry, including 105 horsepower, but also a hefty price tag of nearly $30,000 and limited range. No clear-cut plan was shared on developing Harley charging stations to support long-range cruising on the Livewire.

All of those negatives hampered early demand for the product. Consumers didn’t have much time to order the bike, however. Harley quickly halted production and delivery of the Livewire citing an undisclosed build issue.

The bike has since returned to being available at roughly $30,000. Harley told Yahoo Finance it remains committed to the Livewire, even as new CEO Jochen Zeitz appears more inclined to cut costs to the bone rather than invest in the future of cycling.

“What our friends in Milwaukee [Harley’s hometown] experienced is the reason we have stayed away from electric. We didn’t see the opportunity to get the performance level where it needed to be. Zero has figured it out, and we are excited to partner with them,” Wine added.

But first, electric ATVs and snowmobiles for Polaris.

As part of its 10-year exclusive deal with Zero, Polaris will work on releasing electric ATVs and snowmobiles. The first product is expected to arrive in 2021. By 2025, Polaris hopes to have one electric option within each of its core product lines.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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