“They” strike again!
This report covers:
- Harley LiveWire
- Electric sports cars?
- But what do our customers REALLY want?
- So, who is your customer?
- How to make a buck
- The BB School of Business
- The point
What do electric vehicles have to do with airguns? Nothing? Oh, wait — they are part of the great learning curve.
In 2019 Harley Davidson started making the LiveWire — a $30,000 electric motorcycle that got as much as 110 miles per charge and then took 12 hours to fully recharge. It was quiet, which is what you want on city streets — a fast vehicle that’s hard to see and completely silent. The European Union has actually outlawed vehicles that are quieter than a certain minimum level because they are — well — unsafe!
Harley Davidson LiveWire.
So Harley Davidson, the guys who make large, noisy in-your-face motorcycles decide to build an expensive totally silent bike that gets about 50 real-world miles per charge (that’s the word from owners) before it needs to be connected to the wall overnight. Hey, but at least it doesn’t pollute the air! The electric company that serves you might, but that’s way far away and we don’t have to see it when they do.
In 2021 Harley spun off the Live Wire as a separate brand (distancing themselves), lowered the price by $8,000 and extended the range per charge to 95-146 miles (you just know the tester was dragging both feet when he crossed the finish line on that test). Charging is now high-speed — if you have the right connections. And, joy of joy, the LiveWire now gets an estimated 3-4 years of service before the batteries have to be replaced!
What marketing genius thought that one up?
My Harley dealership was giving away LiveWire T-shirts because customers didn’t even want them, to say nothing of the actual motorcycles. They have two LiveWires on display that I believe they are considering turning into planters.
Okay, so what is the airgun equivalent of the LiveWire? How about a pellet rifle that shoots a .177 caliber pellet at 1,600 f.p.s.? It can’t hit the wall of a barn from the inside, but, hey — it is fast! It was probably dreamt up by the same marketing genius that thought Harley Davidson riders wanted a super-quiet vibration-free motorcycle with a short range and costly battery replacements.
Electric sports cars?
Howzabout electric sports cars nobody can afford? Well, let’s see. Lamborghini has built a 6.5-liter 819 horsepower V12 Sian hybrid that sold for $3.9 million, but that was a limited run of just 63 vehicles. They plan to have an all-electric model out before 2030. Better hurry — the 12 people on the planet who’ll buy one are aging fast!
Now Ferrari went into high-rate (for Ferrari) production, making 500 La Ferrari hybrids for the bargain price of just $1,200,000. The V12 was boosted to 950 horsepower by electric motors that give the auto an all-electric cruising range of — wait for it — 16 miles per charge. But hey, it’s clean electricity, right?
Ferrari plans for an all-electric car by 2025 and they say it’s going to be big! Of course it is. Gotta be to hold those batteries!
But what do our customers REALLY want?
“Why do you shoot a .45?” “Because they don’t make a .46!” Ba, dump, bump (cymbal crash).
So Smith and Wesson makes the .500 Magnum — the handgun that Dirty Harry Callahan is afraid to shoot. If you hold your off hand near the cylinder when it fires, ouch! The Mythbusters used one that way to cut an analog human thumb made with chicken bones. There is a lot of controversy surrounding that test, but the point was made — don’t put your hand near the cylinder gap of a .500 Magnum!
Who would own one? The guy whose friends think he owns the most powerful everything. Gotta keep the legend alive, right?
So, what about the .50 BMG (Browning machine gun) in a sporting rifle? Well, for as little as $2,400 you can play with the big boys. But not every sandbox is friendly. Many states have ranges that permit the round, but they are far fewer than the number of ranges for conventional firearms.
I quoted the lowest price for the .50 BMG rifle. Prices extend up into the low five figures. And ammo? Ten rounds of the stuff that’s legal to shoot on most ranges will set you back $40. But hey, Dillon sells a “Big Fifty BFR” (let the reader interpret) reloader for only $1,850. The dies will set you back another $2,000 but after that you can make more rounds for about — well, $4.00 a cartridge is about the going rate.
So, who is your customer?
Electric vehicles — environmentalists who don’t look too far upstream.
Quiet motorcycles — to be determined.
1,600 f.p.s. airguns — young men with $200-300 to spend and a crew to brag to.
Super-powerful handguns — guys called Lefty.
Fifty BMG rifles — military and law enforcement snipers and guys with a crew.
Insanely powerful and fast electric sports cars — guys whose huge garages have mirrored walls.
How to make a buck
Okay, the .50 BMG is priced out of reach. But there are .50 caliber airguns around. And they are more affordable. And they are much easier to shoot. And you don’t need a special range for them since they are in-between .45 ACP and .357 Magnum handguns in power! And the bullets cost far, far less than four bucks a round. B.B. Pelletier buys his for around 30-50 cents, each.
And the Cat’s Paw Buzzalot Mega-Magnum breakbarrel may not hit what you shoot at, but for about the same money and a lot less pain, a Diana 34 EMS will put ’em where you want ’em. Keep the Cat’s Paw handy for when folks come around to what you’re shooting.
The BB School of Business
At the BB School of Business (BBSB — an unsanctioned institution) we make our marketing students use each product they promote and present the results before the bored regents. Many of our graduates have gone on to have fabulous careers in the public sanitation industry.
I don’t know. Is there a point today?
What I was going for is the same theme we have been on for a couple weeks — learning who your market is and making products for them. I just came at it from a different direction today.
To me the Livewire seems like a failed notion from the get-go. But I would put a 1,600 f.p.s. breakbarrel springer in the same category. Maybe, because of the lower price, you can sell a few hundred of the breakbarrels with great box graphics. You will never sell a thirty thousand dollar nearly silent motorcycle to someone who wants a Harley. But are there enough wealthy environmentalists who also like riding motorcycles? Sound to me like trying to sell a freezer to an Eskimo.