Harley-Davidson (HOG) is riding down a different path for the future of its electric motorcycles.
The motorcycling great said this week it will merge its LiveWire electric bike operations with a SPAC [special purpose acquisition company] called AEA-Bridges Impact Corp. The deal values LiveWire at $1.77 billion.
Upon the closing sometime in the first half of 2022, Harley will hold a 74% equity interest in LiveWire.
“I felt as a stand-alone brand it would really have the opportunity to shine and lead in the electrification of the sport with a more urban customer in mind,” Harley-Davidson Chairman and CEO Jochen Zeitz said on Yahoo Finance Live. Zeitz — who joined as a board member in 2007 and took over as CEO in the middle of 2020 — will be the acting CEO of LiveWire for two years after the deal closes.
The company also disclosed a “strategic” partnership with Taiwan-based scooter maker Kymco, which will help manufacture and distribute LiveWire’s electric bikes.
Indeed, LiveWire is not without a bit of history inside Harley.
The iconic American company unveiled Project LiveWire, its marketing campaign for the electric bike, during a June 2014 U.S. tour down Route 66. At the time and under then CEO Matt Levatich, electric vehicles were just in their infancy and Harley used the tour to drum interest in its first electric bike.
By 2018, the company still under Levatich had released the super powerful electric motorcycle LiveWire with a sticker price close to $30,000. That sticker price led to dealers having trouble selling the impressive piece of machinery.
Come July 2021 and now under the leadership of turnaround expert Zeitz, the LiveWire One was unveiled with a sticker price of close to $22,000. The bike is able to travel about 146 miles on a single charge. Just before the debut of the LiveWire One, Zeitz established the business as a stand-alone entity in a precursor to the spin-off news this week.
“We felt the logical step would be to take it public,” Zeitz added.