Business Stories of the Week: Friday, Feb. 2, 2018

by February 2, 2018

Harley-Davidson will invest up to $50 million a year into a new electric motorcycle. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com.

Harley-Davidson goes electric

Motorcyclists who want the Harley-Davidson brand without the classic engine rumble will soon be able to buy the brand’s first electric bike, Bloomberg reported this week. The company plans to spend between $25 million and $50 million annually for the next several years to develop these bikes, which are expected to have a range of about 50 miles and accelerate from 0-60 miles per hour in four seconds. Some market researchers expect the electric motorcycle industry to grow 45% by 2020 and expect this to attract new customers to the brand, while others view this as the company betraying its roots.

U.S. oil production hits milestone

For the first time in nearly 50 years, U.S. crude oil production rose to more than 10 million barrels a day, according to CNBC’s analysis of data provided by the Energy Information Administration. This is the highest figure since 1970. According to market analysis firm IHS Markit, the U.S. could produce upwards of 12 million barrels by 2019, and eventually become a net exporter of oil.

Flamethrower sales top $7.5 million in one day

The Boring Company, Elon Musk’s digging enterprise, sold 15,000 of its flamethrowers in just over one day, earning more than $7.5 million, according to TechCrunch. The device, which is technically legal under ATF regulations, has sparked a lot of controversy in California, with one state lawmaker moving to ban them.  Musk’s has been actively (and humorously) promoting his flamethrower on Twitter, saying that it’s “great for roasting nuts” and that it “works against hordes of the undead or your money back!”

Judge swipes left on Tinder’s pricing model

Tinder, the matchmaking smartphone app where users swipe right (yes) or left (no) on potential dates in their area, recently had a California appeals court judge strike down its premium pricing model for age discrimination, NPR reported. The pricing model — which gave users premium features like extra swipes, charged users over thirty $10 per month more than users under thirty, which violated California’s laws prohibiting discrimination by business establishments.

Amazon and Berkshire Hathaway to try healthcare

Bloomberg columnist Leonid Bershidsky believes Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan’s new venture could revolutionize the ailing U.S. healthcare system. Their program would be a closed system for their combined 1 million employees. It would allow those companies to save on insurance costs — Bloomberg found that it would be cheaper to fly employees to Spain (business class) and have them stay in a Spanish hospital than it would be for them to stay in an American hospital.