During a routine earnings call, Harley-Davidson Inc announced it will produce an all-electric motorcycle. The announcement accompanied news of additional job cuts and a plant closure at the Milwaukee-based company. It also came four years after Harley unveiled its “LiveWire” project, a prototype all-electric motorcycle.
“You’ve heard us talk about Project LiveWire,” Matt Levatich, the president and chief executive officer of Harley-Davidson, told listeners during the call on Tuesday. “It’s an active project we’re preparing to bring to market within 18 months.”
If it is anything like its precursor, the new motorcycle, which was not named, will carry a roughly 50-mile range and be able to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4 seconds. By comparison, Zero’s SR hits 60mph in 3.3 seconds, and the Mission R racer has a top speed of more than 150mph, with a sub-3-second sprint time. A standard Ducati Monster 1200 motorcycle can hit 60mph in just under 3 seconds.
The decision comes at a time when the electric motorcycle market is small but growing: In a 2016 report, market research firm TechNavio projected 45 percent growth in the electric motorcycle industry by 2020. This stands in stark contrast to the deepening slump in US motorcycle demand, with industry retail sales down 6.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017; Harley sales fell 11 percent in the fourth quarter and 8.5 percent for the year, according to numbers released on the call.
Harley-Davidson Chief Financial Officer John Olin said the company will spend $25 million to $50 million per year over the next several years on electric motorcycle technology. The goal is to be the world leader in the electric motorcycle market. “Our brand stands for freedom and independence and personal freedom, and we think the brand is fundamentally sound,” he said during the call.
Meanwhile, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG currently sells an electrified $23,000 C Evolution e-Scooter in Europe and has shown a futuristic electric motorcycle concept (that won’t require a helmet), while upstart electric motorcycle companies such as Zero Motorcycles Inc and Brammo Inc maintain brisk businesses of their own.
The irony in the Harley announcement is that it comes from a company that built its image on the loud, outlaw-style rumble of its engine and the decidedly un-eco-friendly look of its choppers and road cruisers. Where the 32,000 new Harley-Davidson buyers in the US last year probably bought their first hog in large part for its patented loud sound, the electric Harley will undoubtedly be quiet(er).
“I don’t think there is a way forward for Harley,” says Kevin Tynan, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst for the automotive industry. “Investment in the tech will be funded by a dying business, and they are basically starting from scratch. Either they shrink to demand and be what they’ve always been or they sell out and pursue some weird future-mobility business model that doesn’t promise anything—even if they were capable of pulling it off.”
Alan Stulberg, the founder of Revival Motorcycles and a well-respected force within the motorcycle community, is cautiously optimistic. “My feeling is that it will be well-received by the public and new buyers, which Harley direly needs, but not by people who normally ride a Harley,” he says. “It’s awesome. It’s necessary. The more people who enter that market, the better.” Harley-Davidson executives will market the production version of the electric bike to a broad spectrum of buyers, basing the plan on research from the 12,000 people who rode LiveWire.
“The universal appeal of that product was the most astounding aspect of that initiative,” Levatich said of LiveWire during the call. “It gave us a lot of confidence that electric motorcycles have broad-based appeal. They are going to sit alongside existing Harleys and garages as much as they’re going to create new interest in the sport.”
At any rate, Revival’s Stulberg says, the appeal of an electric bike is not mutually exclusive vs. that of one running on a conventional internal combustion engine. While the thumping sound of the latter is undeniably alluring, the flying feeling provided by the former matches it for pure riding thrill.
“This will only increase the respect that the brand gets,” he says. “At least finally, they can say that Harley does low-tech heritage and it does cutting-edge technology. They can do both. If Harley can do that, it’ll save the company.”
Samsung Galaxy A80 With Rotating Camera, In-Display Fingerprint Sensor Launched
Samsung Galaxy A80 was launched on Wednesday at an event in Thailand. It features a 48-megapixel primary camera. The Galaxy A80 also sports a full-HD+ Super AMOLED display and comes with Dolby Atmos audio integration. The Android Pie-based Samsung phone comes with an in-display fingerprint sensor. Of course, the biggest highlight of the Samsung Galaxy A80 is its rotating camera – the form factor helps in two ways, first, enabling a notchless display, and second, making the high resolution rear camera usable for selfies. The company is also touting the ‘intelligent battery’ that learns the user’s routine to optimise battery life, and also supports 25W ‘Super-Fast Charging’ tech. At the launch event, Samsung also revealed the availability of the Galaxy A70 it had unveiled last week. Read on for more details about the Samsung Galaxy A80 price, release date, specifications, and more.
Samsung Galaxy A80 price, release date
The Samsung Galaxy A80 price has been set at EUR 649 (roughly Rs. 50,500). The company added the smartphone will be available in Angel Gold, Ghost White, and Phantom Black colour variants, with the first two having pearlescent effects. The Samsung Galaxy A80 will go on sale from May 29, in markets across Asia, Australia, China, Europe, Hong Kong, Middle East, New Zealand, and Russia. We can expect the Samsung Galaxy A80 price in India to be along the same lines as Europe pricing, though for now, an India release date has not been specified.
At the launch event, Samsung also announced the availability of the Samsung Galaxy A70 that it had unveiled last week. It will go on sale from April 26, in Black, Blue, Coral, and White colour variants.
Samsung Galaxy A80 specifications
The dual-SIM Samsung Galaxy A80 runs Android 9.0 Pie with the company’s One UI on top. It sports a 6.7-inch full-HD+ (1080×2400 pixels) Super AMOLED ‘New Infinity Display’ with a 20:9 aspect ratio and no notch. It is powered by the newly unveiled Snapdragon 730G SoC, an octa-core processor with two cores clocked at 2.2GHz and six cores clocked at 1.7GHz. This is coupled with 8GB of RAM. The smartphone sports an in-display fingerprint sensor.
Coming to the highlight of the smartphone, it’s rotating camera with a triple camera setup. It features a 48-megapixel primary sensor with an f/2.0 aperture, a secondary 8-megapixel camera with an ultra wide-angle lens (123-degrees), an f/2.2 aperture. There is also a 3D depth camera on board. An IR sensor rounds off the optics. As for selfies, when the user selects selfie mode, the three cameras automatically pop-up and rotate to the front. Other features on the Samsung Galaxy A80 include Super Steady video mode, Scene Optimizer with detection for 30 scenes, and Flaw Detection.
There is 128GB of inbuilt storage, which isn’t expandable via microSD card. The Samsung Galaxy A80 sports a 3,700mAh battery with 25W Super-Fast Charging support. It measures 165.2×76.5×9.3mm. Other features on the smartphone include Bixby, Samsung Pay, Samsung Health, and Samsung Knox. The company is also boasting of an Intelligent Performance Enhancer that uses AI for performance optimisation. The Bixby Routines feature looks to automate daily tasks by learning user patterns.
Finally, the Galaxy A80 also features Dolby Atmos technology for improved audio output with headphones or Bluetooth speakers.
Commenting on the launch, DJ Koh, President and CEO of IT & Mobile Communications Division at Samsung Electronics, said, “The Galaxy A Series provides a range of models so everyone can choose a device that fits their unique needs and enables them to pursue their passions. The Galaxy A80 offers premium features for digital natives who want to fully engage in the Era of Live.”
Acer Nitro 7 Slim Gaming Laptop Launched, Nitro 5 Series for Casual Gamers Updated
At Acer’s annual hardware event, the company has launched a bunch of new products, while refreshing some of its existing lineup. One of the new launches is the Acer Nitro 7 gaming laptop, which boasts of a metal design, a slim body measuring 19.9mm in thickness, and up to seven hours of battery life. The company has also refreshed its existing Nitro 5 gaming laptop, which now boasts of an 80 percent screen-to-body ratio thanks to the 7.18mm narrow display bezels.
Both the Acer laptops share many of the underlying technologies such as CoolBoost, which features a dual exhaust system for keeping temperatures down when gaming. The NitroSense software allows users to visualise component temperature, loading performance, power usage, and more on both series. The Nitro 7 and Nitro 5 also feature Killer Ethernet E2500 networking card and Acer’s Network Optimizer to prioritise gaming traffic and Waves MaxxAudio for better sound.
Acer Nitro 7 specifications, pricing and availability
The new Nitro 7 features a metal chassis that is less than 20mm in thickness, making it quite slim. It features a 15.6-inch display with 144Hz refresh rate and a 3ms response time. It’s powered by 9th generation Intel Core CPUs and the latest Nvidia GPUs, up to two NVMe PCIe SSDs in RAID 0 with up to 2TB of mechanical storage and up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM.
The Acer Nitro 7 is available now in the US, starting at $1,000 (roughly Rs. 69,500). It will also be available in China and EMEA regions starting May and June respectively.
Acer Nitro 5 specifications, pricing and availability
The Acer Nitro 5 is available with a full-HD IPS panel in either a 17.3-inch size with slim borders or a 15.6-inch display size. It too packs in the latest 9th generation Intel Core processors, latest Nvidia GPUs, up to two NVMe PCIe SSDs in RAID 0, up to 32GB of RAM and Wi-Fi 802.11ac with 2×2 MU-MIMO antennas.
The Acer Nitro 5 is available from April in the US for a starting price of $800 (roughly Rs. 55,650). It will also be available in China and EMEA regions from May 2019.
Finally, Acer also announced the Nitro Stream, which is a dedicated streaming PC with a built-in capture card for streaming PC and console games. Specifications include an 8th generation Intel Core i7 CPU, up to 32GB of RAM, 256SSD and a in-built capture card. The PC is also compact enough to be mounted at the back of a monitor using the VESA mount standard. Pricing details and availability aren’t mentioned as of now.
Google Home Can Now Remotely Enable Do Not Disturb Mode on Phones
Google has quietly rolled out a new feature and a behavioural change for the Google Assistant on Google Home smart speakers. Starting with the new feature, users can now activate the Do Not Disturb mode on their smartphone by just saying asking the Google Home speaker to do so via relevant voice command. As for the behavioural change, the Google Home no longer vocally recites every step it is performing that is part of a routine set by users. However, it is not clear when the aforesaid changes went live.
Android Police reports that the Google Home no longer recites every single step of a routine. Earlier, the Google Assistant would alert users about every step of a routine that was in progress. But now, individual steps in a pre-specified routine are not accompanied by a vocal cue every time a routine is executed. However, individual commands that need the Google Assistant to respond vocally as well as standalone actions will still be accompanied by a vocal response.
Moreover, another report from Android Police states that the Google Assistant will now enable the Do Not Disturb mode on a linked smartphone via relevant voice command. For example, users can ask the Google Home to “silence my phone” or “activate DND mode on my phone” to enable the Do Not Disturb mode.
But in case the Google account being used for the Google Home is linked to multiple smartphones, users will have to specify the device, on which they want to enable the DND mode. As per Google’s support page, users can also choose to activate DND mode on all devices in a network via voice command. However, it is not clear when the aforementioned changes went live, or if it is available to only a small set of users in certain regions.