Harley-Davidson’s All-Electric LiveWire To Hit The Streets
Years Of Teasing Us Is Finally Coming To An End in 2019by TJ Hinton, on
Back in 2014, Harley-Davdison teased the world with something that many of us considered to be an unlikely creation for the U.S. motorcycle icon; an all-electric sportbike in the form of the LiveWire. Some things have changed since then. Victory Motorcycles has gone tits-up-and-taking-on-water, ending its Brammo-based ’Empulse TT’ program, at least for the moment until Polaris shifts development/production to its other U.S. manufacturer, Indian Motorcycle. That’s a delay that gives H-D a much-needed buffer on the electric front as it struggles to compensate for its dwindling traditional buyer base, and it looks as though the factory is about ready to capitalize on its competitor’s misfortune and the current void in the U.S. electric streetbike market.
Continue reading for the upcoming Livewire release.
The Harley-Davidson Livewire
Harley rolls out the first production models for public consumption in summer 2019.
“We are progressing to that plan and we are excited about that product. We continue to see electric vehicles as a tremendous opportunity,” CEO Matt Levatich told The Street when asked about the electric bike. “These motorcycles are easier to ride than bicycles, they lend themselves to urban environments where our product is maybe less targeted or less suited. They are suited to a generation of people that don’t have the mechanical depth of experience that maybe boomers had with manual transmissions and clutches.”
While I’m unsure as to whether insulting the kids for their lack of mechanical aptitude is quite the way to go, it does make an entertaining read and isn’t entirely unfair or untrue. I expect the machine to speak for itself far more eloquently than Mr. Levatich however, and it seems as though the lecture is set to begin in summer of 2019 when H-D rolls out the first production models for public consumption. What can we look forward to specifically? Well, here’s what we know so far...
If the MoCo plans on scooping up the target demographic, it's going to have to take a step back from its usual pricing formula.
Decidedly streetbike-ish, the LiveWire veers into the same territory as its diminutive Street range and defunct V-Rod line for a sort of hybrid machine that borrows from both sport and cruiser elements for something in-between, and I, for one, find it to be a nice compromise in much the same way that I think getting chocolate on my peanut butter is a good middle ground; individually, both have something to offer, but combined, they are greater than the sum of their parts.
The metrics from the factory reveal a moderately powerful machine that brings 74 horsepower and 52 pound-feet of torque to the table, but that’s not the whole story. While smoker-motors need to spool up to generate their grunt, electrics deliver the full potential of the system based on throttle position, or whatever you call the speed control that does not meter airflow. As soon as you roll on, the full torque is available, regardless of vehicle speed/motor rpm. That fact alone makes electrics punch so far above their weight, we haven’t really settled on a way to compare it against dino-juice machines and the traditional metrics just don’t give an accurate comparison in much the same way that you can’t compare performance based on waterline length and horsepower between a catamaran and a monohull; the rules are just simply different.
Top speed is governed at 95 mph, and 0-to-60 times are reported at 4-seconds flat. This comes from the 7 kWh storage cell and 55 kW, oil-cooled three-phase motor, but info on charge times and lifetime battery cycles is still a big question mark. So is the cost, but it’s safe to say that if the MoCo plans on scooping up the target demographic, it’s going to have to take a step back from its usual pricing formula — if the labor unions that have been screwing the buyer base for decades will allow it, that is — and keep it below the spectacularly ambitious $20 K tag on the ill-fated Empulse TT. Looks like we have just over a year to find out all the unknowns firsthand.
Where Does Harley-Davidson Stand Now?
See our article on Harley-Davidson’s changing customer base.
Victory Motorcycles Empulse TT
See our review of the Victory Motorcycles Empulse TT.
Harley-Davidson Street 500 & 750
See our review of the Harley Davidson Street 500 & 750.