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Harley-Davidson LiveWire

The Harley-Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycle was officially unveiled in January 2019 at CES.  A lot of marketing hype surrounded the unveiling of the motorcycle with claims of it being the start of “a new focus for the brand that would inspire the next generation of riders.”

Then yesterday, Reuters broke the news that Harley-Davidson had stopped production and delivery (temporarily) of the LiveWire electric motorcycles, after discovering an issue related to the vehicle’s charging equipment. It was reported that the company discovered a “non-standard” condition during the final quality checks of LiveWire, which it already started shipping to dealers in late September.  There were glitches found in the product which has prompted additional testing and analysis.

Interestingly, Webster defines glitches “as a sudden, usually temporary malfunction or irregularity of equipment.”  A glitch like this is not something riders want in a $30,000 purchase!

The LiveWire motorcycle uses a Combined Charging System (CCS), which is a single connector pattern that offers enough space for a Type 1 or Type 2 connector, along with space for a two-pin DC connector allowing charging at up to 200 Amps.  As part of the announcement, the motor company informed current owners to NOT charge the motorcycles through standard home outlets and use only ChargePoint (direct-current stations) charging stations at authorized Harley dealerships to reload the battery.

Well isn’t that “a jolt” of inconvenience?!

For most riders, you’d like to start your day fully charged!  Meaning home charging is normally done at night while you eat, play with the kids, watch TV, and sleep!  There are two Harley-Davidson dealers in the Portland, Oregon metro area that have installed ChargePoint stations.  Finding an alternative direct-current charging station to reload the motorcycle battery on the way to work and then waiting for a couple hours is certainly not ideal.

Charge Locations – Portland, Or. Metro

There are couple of things to know about public charging: the 3 different levels of charging, the difference between connectors and the charging networks.  Riders can go directly to a dealer or try and locate charging stations using ChargeHub.

Knowing your motorcycle’s capabilities is very important and consult the dealer if not understood!

Public Chargers Levels:
Level 1 is the standard wall outlet of 120 volts. It is the slowest charge level and requires tens of hours to fully charge a 100% electric vehicle.
Level 2 is the typical EV plug found in homes and garages. Most public charging stations are level 2.
Level 3 chargers, also known as DCFC or DC Fast Chargers are the quickest way to charge a vehicle. Not every electric vehicle can charge at level 3 chargers.

In general, electric motorcycles are in a phase of adoption known as “the chasm,” (See: Geoffrey Moore’s technology adoption curve) a gulf separating early adopters from the majority of consumers.  It’s a treacherous position in the life of new technology/products, and often determines their success or failure.  One could debate that Harley-Davidson is targeting a market that does not really exist: young, “green” and affluent first-time motorcyclists.

This unattractive “glitch” will be over soon enough, but it does little to promote value creation and owning a Harley-Davidson electric motorcycle.

UPDATE:  October 16, 2019 — An unidentified H-D source tells Forbes:  “This is an issue with the 120v [charging] system, which includes an on-board charger, so it could be a vendor issue with that charger, a wiring harness issue, etc. The point I’d make is that the QC [Quality Control] process worked…there’s an issue, it was discovered before the bikes were shipped to dealers and customers, and I assume it will be fixed.”

UPDATE: October 18, 2019 — TechCrunch reported that Harley-Davidson has resumed LiveWire production.  “After completing rigorous analysis this week, we have resumed LiveWire production and deliveries,” Harley-Davidson said in a comment emailed to TechCrunch. “Customers may continue riding their LiveWire motorcycle and are able to charge the motorcycle through all methods. Temporarily stopping LiveWire production allowed us to confirm that the non-standard condition identified on one motorcycle was a singular occurrence.”

Photos courtesy of Harley-Davidson and ChargeHub

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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Real ID Driver License Example

Do you remember the $300 million in federal taxpayer money wasted for Cover Oregon?

The State of Oregon shutdown its planned healthcare exchange in 2014 which never launched. Former Governor Kitzhaber had staked his reputation and his reelection bid on promoting State-based health and welfare programs.

Given all the in-fighting and blame among employees in the Oregon Health Authority, Cover Oregon was becoming a political liability so, the state quickly pivoted to a blame-Oracle narrative and instructed Attorney General Rosenblum to justify and pursue litigation.

Real ID Information

Now it’s Déjà vu all over again.

I’m talking about the Real ID Act and the State of Oregon Driver License.

The state and/or the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) looks to be unwilling to take responsibility for its own system failures in trying to comply with the federal Real ID Act.

 

Here are some facts:

• Oregonians are not required to change their standard driver license or ID card. The current card will continue to be valid until it expires, and you can use it for everything you use it for today – including air travel until October 2020.
• When your driver license or ID card expires, you have the option of renewing your standard license or ID card (prior to July 6, 2020) or getting a Real ID version on July 6, 2020.
• From the DMV stats page: There are approximately 4.1 million registered vehicles in the state of Oregon. Of those, about 3.2 million are passenger vehicles with nearly 3.1 million licensed drivers.  Those drivers are served by 60 DMV offices around the state.
• The State of Oregon is not yet compliant with the standards of the Real ID Act and CANNOT provide a Real ID option until July 6, 2020.
• The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has given Oregon multiple extensions to-date, but their last and final extension means the state has to provide a Real ID option prior to October 2020.
• The DHS will not recognize driver licenses with out Real ID for air travel after October 2020.

The State of Oregon has received constant warnings about being prepared and providing Real ID licenses, but the project, its problems, its scope, its goals, its costs, its risks, its timing, its milestones, its deliverable, and its schedule didn’t seem to be understood by many until DHS extensions stopped.  I’m not certain, but I anticipate government representatives making the rounds on TV pontificating whining how the State of Oregon teams faced so many legacy issues, including complex IT structures, manual processes, insufficient visibility into systems and dwindling resources to comply with this federal act.

Oregon DMV Locations

Let’s do the math — assuming all 3.1M Oregon licensed drivers get a Real ID license during the “90 day window” (July 6, 2020 – Sept 30, 2020) that is 34,444 drivers renewing licenses per day.  Divide 34,444 drivers by 60 (# of DMV offices across the state) that is 574 drivers per day, filing paperwork and renewing their licenses.  Of course the 90 days isn’t totally accurate as the DMV offices are not open 7-days a week and in addition, the highest number of drivers will be in a smaller number of the overloaded metro offices.

I’m not going all Chicken Little on you, but it looks like the “sky is falling on the Oregon DMV” and at best, this is a political embarrassment for Governor Brown.  At worst, it’s another example of Governor Brown’s administration  accountability or lack there of, for procedures in important areas and may set off another round of state employees lobbing rocks over the fence in a defensive, accusatory and inaccurate ways.

In fact, earlier this week it became all about offense as government officials started amplifying the spin on TV and recited:  “Avoid the long DMV lines next year and instead either get one or plan to use your current passport for air travel.”  Clearly this is an effort to change the narrative of Real ID implementation delays which I read with deep skepticism.

Who will help rescue the state from its own incompetence this time?  Why has the state kept key details on the reason for Real ID delays concealed from the public?  Why has no media outlet demanded an answer on the reasons of the delay?  How will the state triage and combat lengthy wait times?  Will the state redirect employees from the DMV headquarters and staff from other state agencies and departments— to reduce the wait times at field offices?

The State of Oregon owes the public a duty of transparency on the Real ID project!

 

Real ID Background:
On September 11, 2001, America was attacked.  While prior to September 11th, states were already implementing numerous security measures to counter issues with counterfeit driver’s licenses (DLs) and identification cards (IDs) and dated licensing procedures, after September 11th states accelerated these efforts to ensure that their driver’s licenses and identification cards were secure.

The Real ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005.  On May 11, 2005, President Bush signed into law the “Emergency Supplemental Appropriation for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief, 2005” (H.R. 1268, P.L. 109-13), which included the “Real ID Act of 2005.” Title II of Real ID—“Improved Security for Driver’s License’ and Personal Identification Cards”—it was based on recommendations from the 9/11 Commission that the federal government “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.”  It establishes standards that state-issued driver licenses and identification cards must meet in order to be accepted for certain federal purposes.

More information on the Real ID Act, federal funding and extensions is:  (HERE)

Photos courtesy of Oregon DMV and Google Maps

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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UBCO 2×2 Electric Utility Motorcycle

I like watching the proverbial fire and brimstone post-apocalyptic movies as much as the next person (think: Mad Max, Twelve Monkeys, The Book of Eli, I Am Legend etc.,), but the Hollywood creations often incorrectly portray motorcycle transportation with flashy visuals and entertainment over realism.

Speaking about realism, September is National Preparedness Month (NPM) which highlights a time to focus attention on the importance of preparing families and homes for disasters that might threaten our lives and property.  It’s spearheaded by the U.S. government and this year’s overarching theme is “Prepared, Not Scared.”

I’m not sitting here eating peaches from a can and going all Eagle Scout on you, but being prepared when potential disasters occur by developing and practicing a family emergency response plan, assembling a disaster supply kit, signing up for alerts on mobile devices, setting aside emergency savings, and maintaining adequate insurance policies for our homes are important steps for disaster preparedness and valuable for everyone.

National Preparedness Month (NPM)

You’re likely thinking, hey Mac, the Harley is full of fuel, it get’s nearly 50mpg and I’ll just grab my “Bug Out Bag” and hit the road when the time comes.  But, what happens in a major crisis when the fuel production and distribution stalls or ceases?  Meaning Bob,  the local tanker truck driver is going to stop making his rounds to the gas stations and go find his family so no new fuel is distributed.

For that type of scenario a small, efficient electric motorcycle might be a great option — yes, you guessed it — I’m suggesting that you purchase a new $30K LiveWire Motorcycle that Harley-Davidson introduced last month.  Let’s call it the masterfully disguised “Prepper Bike” vs. an urban ride.  I can even envision a Harley-Davidson  marketing campaign to include a free survival knife and bandana when you purchase the motorcycle!

I’m being sarcastic, and was thinking about the UBCO 2×2 electric utility motorcycle.  It can be charged from solar panels in an off-grid location, which offers good range and maneuverability.  It has a lot of interest with those who need to bug out and want to keep a low profile.  Any motorcycle enthusiast who grew up riding the Honda Trail 90, will instantly relate to the 2×2.  The UBCO bike will only do 30mph, but it can carry up to 400 pounds (including rider) and cover 50 to 75 miles per charge. It’s nearly silent, and uses a 2-wheel-drive system for improved off-road performance — a feature that’s reminiscent of the classic ROKON gas-powered utility bikes. The battery packs are removable and interchangeable, so you can carry a spare to double the range. There are even USB ports and a 12V outlet for charging other devices such as your phone, GPS, lights, or tools.  The UBCO 2×2 starts around $7K and a spare 48Ah battery pack is $2K.

A sidebar:  The concept or story behind UBCO started in New Zealand.  UBCO had been actively visiting and investigating the U.S. market when it was contacted by Technology Entrepreneur Bob Ralston.  An investment opportunity was consolidated with Spring Capital in Eugene, Oregon and a dedicated distribution company was established in Eugene.  The idea of a Utility Electric Vehicle (UEV) that would transform the way people ride, work and play rolled out.

Even if uninterested in the EUM (electric utility motorcycle), discover your inner Scout and learn about the 130 Survival uses for a Bandanna that you are likely already wearing!

I’ve said it often, and will say it again: emergency preparedness is valuable for everyone!

Photo courtesy of Ready.gov and UBCO

Preparedness Resources:
Off Grid:  NPM 2019
Ready Gov:  September 2019
Preppers Bandanna: 130 Uses
Financial Preparedness: Finances
Community Preparedness: Neighborhood Prep

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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Customize It And Stand Out

According to Reuters, Harley-Davidson Inc. has laid off 40 employees in Milwaukee at their general merchandise division.

It’s not a large number of employees, but most unfortunate if your career “rug” was just pulled out from underneath you as someone impacted by this reorganization.

Important to note is that Harley-Davidson’s second quarter earnings report, released July 23, 2019 reported general merchandise sales of $64.6 million, a 5.8% decline from 2018. The company saw a 4.2% decline in the first half of 2019 from 2018 in general merchandise.  It’s also no secret that Harley-Davidson continues to see a decline in motorcycles sales in the U.S. and abroad as it works to adapt to changing clientele.

In the Reuters report the motor company stated the general merchandise division re-org was to manage it’s business with “focus and discipline.”  That statement reads like a quote from the Six Disciplines playbook.  Was the division previously an over-committed reactionary one with no focus and discipline?  That euphemistic “focus and discipline” term seems to be more about flattering management because at the end of the day it’s a “reduction in force,” which is an old school straightforward term.

SAVE, SAVE, SAVE

And speaking of general merchandise — have you noticed the significant up-tick of emails from Harley-Davidson corporate or your local dealer?  I follow Harley-Davidson on multiple channels to stay current on their events and product announcements and always get a number of emails, but I’ve seen a dramatic drum-beat increase over the last couple of months.

It’s starting to have a feel of desperation to survive and meet sales quotas.  Here are a couple recent examples:

Motorclothes, Last Chance to Save Up to 50%…
Harley-Davidson VISA…Reap The Rewards…
End of Summer Sale…
Customize It and Stand Out…
Finance Interest Rate Specials…
Schedule a test ride today…
The 2020 Models are here…
Ride into Fall sale…
Performance Workshop this weekend…

Why is email solicitation so popular?  Because it’s a free alternative to tele-marketing and direct-mail campaigns.  The cost of sending an email is minimal compared to the cost of printing and mailing paper and the email “opportunity” goes directly to your inbox for review.

I predict we’ll see more and more sales email as the motor company works even harder to capture and retain our interest.

Photos courtesy of Harley-Davidson email blasts

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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Jessi Combs:  July 27, 1980 – August 27, 2019

Sadly, television personality and professional driver Jessi Combs died Tuesday in Oregon trying to break a land speed record in a jet car.  She was 39.

Jessi Combs was born in the Black Hills of Rapid City, SD. and had a lifelong desire to become a race car driver.  She was a fearless young lady.

She was on the dry lake bed of the Alvord Desert pursuing a land speed record in the North American Eagle (jet-powered vehicle) on August, 27th 2019 on the dry lake bed.  The details of the crash have not been released at this time.

North American Eagle Supersonic Speed Challenger

Land speed records have been set or attempted in the past on the dried lake bed of the Alvord Desert.  The Alvord Desert is located in Harney County, in southeastern Oregon.  It is roughly southeast of Steens Mountain.

In 2013, Jessi Combs broke the four-wheeled women’s land speed record there at a speed of nearly 393 mph in her 52,000-horsepower, 56-foot-long,  North American Eagle Supersonic Speed Challenger — a reconfigured F-104 jet — on the 13-mile course. Then, in 2016, Combs broke 440 mph and was dubbed the fastest woman on four wheels.

In 2018, during a shakedown run, she set a new record of 483.227 mph.  Unfortunately, a panel fell off the car and dangled at 488 mph until part of it broke off and went into the intake on the left side.  There wasn’t a lot of damage, but enough where they had to pack up the pits and take it back to the shop in order to fix the first 2 turbine blade levels.

The group’s stated goal was to break the land speed record of 763 mph, which was set on Nevada’s Black Rock Desert in 1997.

Jessi was an icon in the industry, and my thoughts are with her family and loved ones.

Photos courtesy Jessi Combs Instagram and website

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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2020 CVO™ STREET GLIDE®

It’s a slang expression and in general has the meaning of knowing if something is worth the trouble of trying to get it.

And in this case I’m thinking about the MSRP on Harley-Davidson’s 2020 lineup.

In 2019, the 10 models in the touring family: Road King; Street Glide; Road Glide; Road King Special; Electra Glide Ultra Classic; Street Glide Special; Road Glide Special; Road Glide Ultra; Ultra Limited Low; and Ultra Limited had starting prices which ranged from $19,289 to $28,089.  The new 2020 models starting prices range from $19,499 to $28,699.  The three 2019 CVO (Custom Vehicle Operations) models: CVO Street Glide (starting at $40,889); CVO Road Glide (starting at $42,339); and CVO Limited (starting at $43,889). The new 2020 CVO models are priced below.  I’m no Financial Samurai, but that’s getting squeezed!

But wait a minute.  Maybe it’s time to just accept the reason why the average new motorcycle price is so high is because the economy is booming and people seem to have money to spend. If people weren’t cashed up, prices would decline instead of rising to these historical levels.

So, let’s look briefly at the new 2020 models…

2020 CVO™ TRI GLIDE®

Harley-Davidson launched new models and a saddle-bag full of new technologies that are featured on the Low Rider® S model, the all-electric LiveWire™ model, a new CVO™ Tri Glide® model and a “re-styled” Heritage Classic.  Not mentioned in Harley-Davidson’s press release were the models which will not be returning for 2020: the Superlow, 1200 Custom and Forty-Eight Special, the Electra Glide Ultra Classic, the Ultra Limited Low and the CVO Road Glide. Also gone is the Road Glide Ultra, which is officially being replaced by the Road Glide Limited.

The LiveWire motorcycle as previously noted is powered by the all-new H-D Revelation™ permanent-magnet electric motor rated at 105 horsepower (78 kW) and producing 86 ft. lbs. of torque.  You may recall that back in January, Harley-Davidson made a splash at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, with the LiveWire and stated they would start deliveries of the $29,799 all-electric motorcycle by this fall.  The motorcycle was initially rolled out for “beta testing” back in 2014 to H-D brand fans, but since then, the motor company has been working on fine-tuning the design and overall electrification.  Unlike an internal combustion engine (ICE), the H-D Revelation can produce 100 percent of its rated torque the instant the throttle is twisted, and 100 percent of that torque is always available, resulting in incredible, acceleration for an exhilarating ride. The LiveWire can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 3.0 seconds, and 60-80 mph in 1.9 seconds. And the high-voltage battery provides 146 miles (235 km) of city range or 95 miles (152 km) of combined stop-and-go and highway range as measured using the MIC City and MIC Combined tests.  The H-D Revelation motor is cooled by a water jacket, with coolant circulated through a small radiator, and is positioned longitudinally and low in the chassis to lower the motorcycle’s center of gravity, and aid maneuverability.

2020 Low Rider® S

The Low Rider S focuses first on performance. This motorcycle places emphasis on power, handling, and enhanced rider control, while maintaining the typical character of the Harley-Davidson. The motorcycle employs the Softail chassis, enhanced by premium suspension components tuned for aggressive riding and powered by the Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine.  The Low Rider S is really rooted in the legacy of the Low Rider models of the 1980s, that has a devoted following which spread world-wide from origins in Southern California.  The 2020 Low Rider S model has a base price of $17,999.

The Heritage Classic model has been restyled for 2020 “to give the bike a more appealing and nostalgia look of Harley-Davidson chrome.” The Heritage Classic is powered by the same Milwaukee-Eight 107 powertrain as the 2019 model and retains the same mechanics as its predecessor.  The base price for for the 2020 Heritage Classic is $18,999.

The Road Glide Limited, which replaces the Road Glide Ultra will offer the rider new premium luxury-touring features. The model is intended for long-haul touring and is equipped with the distinctive aerodynamic Road Glide shark-nose fairing with triple split stream vents that limit rider head buffeting. The motorcycle is powered by the standard Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine. The base price for the Road Glide Limited is $28,299.

2020 CVO™ LIMITED

The CVO Tri Glide is the newest addition to the company’s line of premium CVO motorcycles and labeled as the ultimate three-wheel motorcycle.  The trike will uphold the CVO standard for advanced technology, exclusive components, and attention to detail that is expected of CVO’s. The CVO Tri Glide will utilize the Milwaukee-Eight 117 powertrain that is unique to CVO models.

Base price for the 2020 CVO Tri-Glide is $48,999.
Base price for the 2020 CVO Limited is $44,039
Base price for the 2020 CVO Street Glide model is $40,539

The H-D™Connect service rolled out which is a cellular telematics control unit (TCU) that functions as an (LTE) enabled modem connecting the 2020 LiveWire™ and select 2020 Touring models to the cloud.  The service is built on the IBM Cloud and Panasonic’s OneConnect™ service.  It’s a ($12/month fee-based service – FREE 1st year) service that remotely connects the rider to their motorcycle through the Harley-Davidson App via a smart phone.  The built-in cellular connectivity with the IBM Cloud, IBM artificial intelligence (AI), analytics and Internet of Things will enhance the rider’s experience as well as keep the rider in the know with motorcycle status, notifications and alerts.  The press release, web site and product documents note that the service is not available in all markets and availability will vary.

H-D™ Connect

The motor company also launched the new Reflex™ Defensive Rider Systems (RDRS) — unlike previous model years Linked Brembo Brakes with ABS, the new system is a collection of technology designed to match motorcycle performance to available traction during acceleration, deceleration and braking, utilizing the latest chassis control, electronic brake control and powertrain technology.   With features like: Cornering Electronically Linked Brakes, Cornering-ABS, Cornering-Traction Control with modes, Drag Torque Slip Control, Vehicle Hold Control and Tire Pressure Monitoring (TPMS) the motor company upped it’s game to give the rider confidence and control in less-than-ideal situations.  Important to note is that RDRS is not a system to directly influence vehicle direction. This is a key difference between motorcycle RDRS and Automotive Stability Control. The rider is ultimately responsible for speed, steering, and path corrections.  The RDRS features are standard on the 2020 LiveWire, Trike and CVO models, and optional on all 2020 Touring models in the U.S. (except Electra Glide®Standard models).

Boom!™ Box GTS infotainment system has evolved with the latest look, feel and function of mobile phones and tablets and with durability and features designed specifically for motorcycling. Every element has been optimized to enhance the rider’s interaction with the motorcycle and connectivity.  Most notable is the GTS processes faster, has more memory and is much more responsive.  Start-up time is reduced from 21 seconds to 10 seconds,  Time to FM Audio is less than 6 seconds and Route calculation time is reduced from 10 seconds to 2.5 seconds.  The GTS replaces the Boom!™ Box 6.5GT system on MY19 Ultra Limited, Ultra Limited Low, Road Glide Ultra, Road Glide Special, Street Glide Special models, and is a factory-installed option on Street Glide, Road Glide and Ultra Classic models.  What DID NOT change and deserves a shout-out is the current audio sources are maintained: AM, FM, WB, XM, A2DP Bluetooth streaming and Digital Mass Storage compatibility!

Heather Malenshek, Harley-Davidson Chief Marketing Officer stated that “Harley-Davidson offers riders a host of new models, gear and accessories for 2020 as we leverage our unmatched ability to blend style, performance and technology in products designed to elevate the motorcycling experience.

Clearly rider and motorcycle assistance systems are rolling out faster and getting better at Harley-Davidson.  The advance technologies provide incremental improvements and make for inspiring marketing collateral.  But, the picture looks different for more price-sensitive customers when you shine a “Daymaker” headlamp on cost competitiveness.

The accelerating motorcycle costs are a good reminder that whatever you’re going through–whatever financial pressure or squeezing stress–the question at the end-of-day is–is it worth what it produces? i.e., is the juice really worth the squeeze?

UPDATED: October 1, 2019 — Previously neglected to include the role Panasonic Automotive has in connecting Harley riders to their motorcycle through a cellular connection to the telematics control unit (TCU) utilizing Panasonic’s OneConnect™ service. The OneConnect™ service complements the Harley-Davidson App and the new Harley-Davidson Connect service. Together, these systems link LiveWire riders with their motorcycle through their smartphone providing features such as motorcycle status, tamper alerts and vehicle location and service reminder and notifications.

References:
H-D Media Kit: (HERE)
More Roads to Harley-Davidson Plan: (HERE)

Photos courtesy of Harley-Davidson

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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The number of businesses investing in the Internet of Things (IoT) technology continues to grow.  Harley-Davidson is one company that recognizes the benefits and has started to leverage IoT both internally as part of their manufacturing process and externally with the new H-D™ Connect service.

WTF?  Isn’t this a motorcycle blog Mac?  You lost me at that inter-web-thingy!

First off, lets set some context with a bit of IoT background:

The Internet of Things (IoT) is used across industries such as manufacturing, logistics, healthcare, agriculture, automotive and industrial markets.  Think connected cars, smart buildings, smart homes and smart city grids.  You’ve likely interacted already with internet-enabled appliances (refrigerators, washer/dryer, garage door openers), there are smart TV’s, there are wearable health trackers.  Need more specifics?  Think RING doorbells, NEST  thermostats or Philips Hue lightbulbs.  Just a few product examples that highlight IoT-based value creation.

The key point here is VALUE creation.  It involves performing activities that increase the value of a company’s offering and encourage customer willingness to pay.  That is the heart of any business model.  Simply connecting a “thing” to the Internet isn’t enough—you must be able to ensure that the data generated by that thing can be leveraged to enable new business benefits.  Whether that benefit is reducing your business’ costs or enhancing your customers’ experiences with new services, the systems chosen to power an IoT deployment must work reliably, be easy to manage, and help you get to real business.

That’s enough context.  Let’s circle the discussion back to motorcycles.

You may not know, but Zero Motorcycles produced a prototype of its first electric motorcycle in 2006 and began marketing them in 2008. In 2013 the company produced a mobile app enabling communication with the motorcycle using Bluetooth; effectively using the Internet of Things (IoT) to connect owner, motorcycle, and service facility.  The app allowed the rider to configure their motorcycle in a number of different ways. For example, it can be configured for a more energy efficient ride or for a higher performance ride using only the app. One of the rider benefits is that the app can also inform you of your current battery capacity as well as an estimation of how far you can travel on the charge.

In addition, the Zero Motorcycles can communicate directly to the manufacturer, dealer, or repair shop. Most vehicles today can communicate with the mechanic by being plugged into a computer, but it requires a trip to the garage. The Zero Motorcycle app allows the motorcycle to send that diagnostic information directly to the mechanic over the internet no matter where you are.  If a rider experiences mechanical problems with the motorcycle, all they need do is to tap the help button located in the app. The information is transmitted and the rider can get troubleshooting advice on location as well as having the company schedule a service appointment if desired. Rather than taking days to get your motorcycle into a mechanic for diagnosis, it is all done in minutes.

Now lets chat about the new H-D™ Connect service; a cellular telematics control unit (TCU) that functions as an (LTE) enabled modem connecting the 2020 LiveWire™ and select 2020 Touring models to the cloud.  It’s built on the IBM Cloud and launched earlier this week.  The H-D Connect (a $12/month fee-based service – FREE 1st year) service remotely connects you to your motorcycle through the Harley-Davidson App on your smart phone.  The fact that Harley-Davidson marketing boldly claims they “will lead the electrification of motorcycling”, is a stunning statement-of-hype when they basically imitated a 6-year old service from Zero Motorcycles!

H-D Connect uses built-in cellular (LTE) connectivity with the IBM Cloud, IBM artificial intelligence (AI), analytics and IoT to enhance the rider’s experience as well as keep the rider in the know with motorcycle status, notifications and alerts.  The rider is always “plugged in”.  Riders can check the battery charge status or the fuel level, available range, tire pressure (on TPMS-equipped models), ride mode (on equipped models), odometer, Infotainment software updates where applicable, and riding statistics.  There is even a GPS-enabled stolen vehicle tracking feature that lets riders share the motorcycle location with law enforcement.

It’s been reported that Harley-Davidson used IoT sensors as far back as 2013 along with other applications to keep track of production on its manufacturing facility in York, Pa., and can complete a new motorcycle every 86 seconds.  But, clearly Harley-Davidson’s desire to make money in the internet-connected space is not limited to physical motorcycle sales; other revenue streams become possible after the initial product sale, including value-added services, subscriptions, and apps, which over time might even exceed the initial purchase price of the motorcycle.

As more and more of our daily life is internet-connected and “recorded” by computers communicating with other computers, riders (myself included) have a legitimate concern about security.  There’s been very little information made available from Harley-Davidson in regards to how they will ensure the privacy of both rider, their riding data and the motorcycle stats.  How often are data logs taken from the motorcycle, streamed to the cloud and then reviewed, stored and archived?  Is the data encoded in a proprietary format, is it encrypted and who can review the data?  Does it require a double-top secret decoder?  The LTE cellular link is ideal to connect the motorcycle and it’s sensors to the dealer and motor company, but it also seems fairly simple to obtain or review that data for evidence that might be used later against the rider.

Any new technology hooked up to the web has the potential to become a surveillance device, even if it’s original purpose was benign.  Law enforcement “cartapping” or using “things” for surveillance has been possible for years, but maybe we should dwell on the benefits that we as a society can reap from this technology.  The new H-D Connect service and Harley-Davidson’s Internet of Things (IoT) platform may provide a reduction in motorcycle fatalities, provide increased benefits of predictive driving in real-time and a more energy efficient future once we’re all inter-connected to smart city grids.

We’ll know soon enough if Harley-Davidson’s internet-connected motorcycles and services actually increase the value of the company’s offering and encourage customer willingness to pay more.

Additional Information:

How Many Turns in a Screw? Big Data Knows — WSJ Paywall
IoT Makes Motorcycles, Helmets Safer, Smarter — Information Week
Harley-Davidson to Redefine Riding with IBM Cloud — IBM PR
How Smart Connected Products Are Transforming Companies — Harvard Business Review

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