Four years after the debut of its LiveWire project, Harley-Davidson announced its intentions to launch a production electric motorcycle within the next 18 months. The declaration came in Harley’s final financial report of 2017. The statement reads:
Harley-Davidson remains fully committed to investing in product development to inspire new riders through redefining its product in traditional spaces and expanding into new spaces. The company is on target to launch its first electric motorcycle within 18 months. Today, the company announces it will invest more aggressively to lead in the application of electric motorcycle technology to inspire ridership among a new audience.
“The EV motorcycle market is in its infancy today, but we believe premium Harley-Davidson electric motorcycles will help drive excitement and participation in the sport globally,” stated Harley President and COO Matt Levatich. “As we expand our EV capabilities and commitment, we get even more excited about the role electric motorcycles will play in growing our business.”
Harley-Davidson’s first foray into the electric domain came in the summer of 2014 when it introduced the LiveWire. Harley did an admirable job of giving the LiveWire a look and identity that differentiated it from other electric motorcycles on the market. It had the proper electric bike essentials, handfuls of torque off-idle and the capacity to go from 0-60 mph in a claimed four seconds. It had a sporty set-up thanks to a Showa big-piston fork and shock and Nissin brakes. But it still suffered the maladies of most electric motorcycles, a limited range of approximately 60 miles and a 3 ½ hour recharging time.
Harley-Davidson paraded the LiveWire around the country, encouraging feedback from as many riders as possible. Called the “Project LiveWire Experience” it helped Harley gauge the feasibility of actually producing an electric motorcycle. Back in April of 2017 Harley announced its ambitious initiative to launch 100 new motorcycles and to grow its ridership by two million over the next 10 years, these plans apparently including producing its first electric bike. While a Harley-Davidson electric motorcycle won’t appeal to its core riders, it might persuade the current generation to sip the Harley elixir in the company’s quest “to inspire ridership among a new audience.”
Whether the production Harley electric bike will be based on the LiveWire or something entirely new remains to speculation. One things for sure, though. Both range and recharging time need to be addressed. And a “potato-potato-potato” soundtrack to play when you rip the throttle might be helpful, too.