Harley-Davidson has announced its plans to start a research and development facility in Silicon Valley.
While Harley-Davidson has long been viewed as a low-tech DIY-friendly brand, perfect for types who don’t mind spinning their own wrenches, this move comes as the manufacturer moves forward with plans to introduce advanced electric models and other game-changing machines.
It’s especially important now, as Harley-Davidson has recently parted ways with Alta, the electric motorcycle manufacturer with which it was planning to build battery bikes. No word yet on why that marriage was so short-lived (the deal was announced last March), but Harley-Davidson has a plan to move forward.
Details on the new operation are fairly slim at this point; the press release (below) says the new facility in northern California will “initially focus on electric vehicle research and development, including battery, power electronics and e-machine design, development and advanced manufacturing,” and that “Harley-Davidson is recruiting top EV Talent to build its Capabilities for New Products and Segments.”
Overall, it’s a sign of what appears to be the beginning of a huge cultural shift for the company, and it makes you wonder what else the MoCo might have coming in the next months.
HARLEY-DAVIDSON CREATES NEW ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY R&D FACILITY IN SILICON VALLEY
Harley-Davidson is recruiting top EV Talent to build its Capabilities for New Products and Segments
(Vaughan, ON) September 6, 2018 – Harley-Davidson, Inc. (NYSE: HOG) announced today it will establish a new research and development facility in Northern California’s Silicon Valley to support its future product portfolio, including the company’s first complete line of electric vehicles.
“Recently we shared with the world our accelerated plans to build the next generation of Harley-Davidson riders globally,” said Matt Levatich, President and CEO of Harley-Davidson, Inc. “This new R&D facility in the heart of Silicon Valley will help us deliver on those plans and demonstrate our commitment to lead the electrification of the sport.”
In July, Harley-Davidson shared details of its “More Roads to Harley-Davidson” growth plan. Through this accelerated plan, the company is expanding the Harley-Davidson community through new products, broader access and stronger dealers.
As part of that strategy, Harley-Davidson will launch its first electric motorcycle, LiveWire™, in 2019. That motorcycle will be the first in a broad, no-clutch “twist and go” portfolio of electric two-wheelers designed by the company. It will be followed by additional models through 2022 to broaden the portfolio with lighter, smaller and even more accessible product options to inspire new riders with new ways to ride.
The new facility in California, which will serve as a satellite of the Willie G. Davidson Product Development Facility in Wauwatosa, Wis., is expected to open in the fourth quarter of 2018. It will initially focus on electric vehicle research and development, including battery, power electronics and e-machine design, development and advanced manufacturing. Long term, the company may consider expanding the center’s focus to an increased range of advanced technologies that uniquely leverage the rich talent in the Silicon Valley and support its most comprehensive and competitive lineup of motorcycles across a broad spectrum of price points, power sources and riding styles.
The company has already begun recruiting top talent in electrical, mechanical and software engineering, with experience in developing and delivering a wide variety of EV systems from design through production. The facility will initially employ a staff of approximately 25, most of which the company intends to hire from within the Silicon Valley area.
“This is an exciting time in Harley-Davidson’s incredible history, and it’s also an exciting time to join our company and help shape our future,” said Levatich.