Will Electric Harley Become Hollywood's Next Tesla?

8:59 AM PST 06/21/2014 by Michael Walker
Associated Press

Harley-Davidson's gas-powered "hogs" are already popular with riders like George Clooney. Harley's new electric motorcycle could become a status ride like Tesla's Model S.

Add Harley-Davidson to the list of vehicle manufacturers that will have an electric on their roster.

The Milwaukee-based motorcycle legend unveiled an electric model, the LiveWire, in New York this week.

Compared to the classic Harley hog, the new electric is far sleeker and comparatively hushed — the thunderous exhaust note from a gas-powered Harley's V-twin engine is replaced by a turbine whine that the company compares to a jet engine spooling for takeoff.

Electric motorcycles by Zero and Brammo have already carved out a niche among younger riders. Harley's entrance into the market — along with Yamaha, which has said it will also field an electric bike — has the potential to bring electrics to a much larger audience.

The Harley electric will have a range of about 130 miles and take an hour to charge. The company said it might provide charging stations through its dealer network.

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Conventional Harleys are already popular among Hollywood's motorcycle gang — Dax Shepard and George Clooney ride them. The company has also worked closely with filmmakers to get its bikes into franchises like Captain America — the new electric was spotted being filmed for the next installment of the Avengers.

Whether an electric Harley will enjoy the cachet of the Tesla Model S, currently the default Hollywood status car, remains to be seen.

Just don't look for Clooney — who famously traded barbs with Tesla CEO Elon Musk over his disappointment with an early Tesla roadster that he said always left him "stuck on the side of the f—ing road" — to trade his gas-powered hog for an electric bike anytime soon.

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