Harley-Davidson Announces First Electric Motorcycle Coming Within 18 Months

3 weeks ago by Domenick Yoney 40

Harley Davidson Project LiveWire

Brrrr!

It’s cold outside. Not because it’s January. Rather, it’s because hell has frozen over. The proof? Harley-Davidson has said it will offer an electric motorcycle within the next 18 months. Brrr!

Harley-Davidson Project LiveWire

Harley-Davidson is serious about electric motorcycles, though. This was evident when it first unveiled its Project Livewire in 2014 — an experiential tour that roamed across the U.S. and Europe with a fleet of 40 custom-made electric bikes, engineered with the help of the now defunct Mission Motors. A huge and expensive undertaking, it had been planned in the wake of the global financial crises after its HOG stock fell from a high of almost $75 in 2006 to a feeble low of $7.99 in 2009. Workers had been laid off and facilities shuttered. Allocating millions of dollars for a future battery-powered bike during these hardest of times underlines the seriousness we are seeing now.

Harley is again experiencing hard times, but is hoping the new electric product they had started planning for way back then can help turn around its fortunes. With its customer base aging out of the market and sales flagging, the Motor Company needs to attract a younger, more diverse following, and we’re about to see if they can somehow reconcile this quieter technology with its long-established rebel image.

The Milwaukee-based outfit didn’t make the announcement with a lot of its usual fanfare. Instead, its electric intentions were noted in its 4th quarter 8K financial filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). From that report, in the section titled “Objective to Build Riders Globally” :

“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 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.”

So, while we wait to see what, exactly, Harley has been working on these past five years or so, let us know what it would take to turn you on to a battery-powered hog.

 

Source: Harley-Davidson

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40 responses to "Harley-Davidson Announces First Electric Motorcycle Coming Within 18 Months"

  1. ffbj says:

    HOG is behind the curve, their sales are tanking, maybe this will spark some interest in their products.

  2. Dav8or says:

    It’s a good move, but the problem is, they are just another motorcycle company waiting for either cheaper batteries, or batteries with a higher power density. Until one of those two goals is met, electric motorcycles will always be over priced and under performing.

    Love the Live Wire though…

    1. jk4r says:

      You’ve got a point on price but I wouldn’t call a Zero SR or Lightening under performing.

      1. SparkEV says:

        For the price, they are underperforming. While I’d love to ride an electric bike, you can get almost double the performance with a gasser for the same money.

        1. Domenick Yoney says:

          Zero bikes perform quite well, as far as acceleration goes. At least, until they get near their (lowish) top speeds.

          There are other bikes, Energica, for instance, with even better performance. Certainly better than anything in the H-D lineup.

          1. SparkEV says:

            Oops. Forgot that the article is about HD. You’re right, compared to overpriced, underpowered, glorified mobility scooter for the geriatric crowd, electric bikes are highly competitive.

            1. Domenick Yoney says:

              I dunno. The Lightning LS-218 (so-named because that’s the speed it hit at Bonneville) can out-muscle pretty much any gas bike out there.

    2. Warren says:

      How is this different from auto companies, other than the fact that auto companies have much larger bank accounts, and can sell EVs at a loss to continue facilitating sales of SUVs in ZEV states, in hopes that they will eventually be profitable?

    3. Gary says:

      Actually, Harley is more of a clothing/lifestyle company that also sells motorcycles.

      1. Cecil T says:

        I know that’s the running joke, but it’s an exaggeration. Their accessories and apparel are something like 20% or less of their revenue.

        1. Nix says:

          They could probably get that up to 25% if they just sold an HD Flamethrower.

  3. Daniel says:

    Zero is showing the way. HD should offer a bike that has a more comfy saddle then Zero and a faster charge of the likes of energica’s ccs charger. LED, most simple tech without that connectivity-thing and some metal finish and lots of black colour will do the job.

    1. Cecil T says:

      For sure Harley will put an LED on it, and I would only hope at least a standard J-plug if not CCS DCFC.

      And not just a comfy saddle but a low one. If shorter people can flat-foot it, it will have instant success.

  4. Ron M says:

    I think it’s great, I wonder what the Mongol’s and Hell’s Angels think about it.lol.

  5. Mark says:

    Cruiser and touring motorcycles could be the ultimate EV. Weight to power ratio would be excellent. They should be able to stuff enough batteries into the bike to get decent range. But as stated previously costs for the range will be prohibitive. Would be nice to have a large comfortable electric motorcycle just to zip around town.

  6. protomech says:

    25k miles between a 2012 and 2014 Zero.

    Here’s what I’d want in my next electric, from Harley or otherwise:

    – CCS DCQC (battery pack > 200 V), 3+ highway miles/minute
    – 2-4 hour level 2 charge
    – 100+ miles of highway range, two-up
    – modern styling, bonus points for mild aero treatment
    – price tag under $20k

    1. SparkEV says:

      I’d rather see Tesla make motorcycles and allow supercharger access. I’m sick of waiting at CCS. I waited 45 minutes other day for Bolt when I only needed 10 minutes. Since I have no idea when they’ll disconnect, I had to stay in the car while waiting. I wouldn’t want to wait 45 minutes sitting next to a motorcycle.

      1. protomech says:

        Supercharger access would be nice but they are not spaced well for a 100 mile highway bike.

        A 200 mile highway bike – possible with a 20-30 kWh battery pack and an aerodynamic fairing – would work well on the Supercharger network.

        1. SparkEV says:

          If you ever waited for Bolt or taper-to-hell Leaf/i3, you wouldn’t want CCS on motorcycle. Things will only get worse with bigger battery EV. If not Tesla, I’ll stick with gas bike.

          1. protomech says:

            > If you ever waited for Bolt or taper-to-hell Leaf/i3, you wouldn’t want CCS on motorcycle. Things will only get worse with bigger battery EV. If not Tesla, I’ll stick with gas bike.

            Bolt doesn’t seem to be substantially better than LEAF in terms of taper, despite its liquid cooling. From 38% to 70% Bolt can draw only an average of *36* kW – that’s less than 0.6 C! And that’s with a station that can supply 125A.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPx8xH4O0jw&t=205s

            A 30 kWh LEAF by comparison will pull 50 kW up until 70+ % SOC.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MTWmds_pBc

            Tesla’s 100 kWh battery packs charge at a little over 1C until about 45%, and even though they also taper quite strongly, they still average 0.9C over the range above.

            https://i.ytimg.com/vi/KBk2rQxJgKY/maxresdefault.jpg

            (x-axis is SOC %, ignore the 100 adj line)

            That’s not necessarily a function of CCS vs Supercharger – the Hyundai Ioniq can charge at well over 2C from a 100 kW CCS station – but more that the Bolt (like the LEAF) very aggressively tapers.

            The Energica bike, despite having a relatively low capacity battery, can accept a 20 kW charge rate which will bring it to 85% in 20-30 minutes. A similar charge rate for a 100 mile battery would be around 3 miles per minute, and a 200 mile battery would be even more so.

        2. Ron M says:

          I don’t think any of the ICE Harleys get 200 miles before they run out of gas.

          1. Steven says:

            You might want to ask a Harley Davidson rider. We could fill you in on a lot of details.

      2. Domenick Yoney says:

        It would be pretty great to see H-D and Tesla team on on Superchargers.

        1. SparkEV says:

          Unlikely. Tesla makes exciting cars, Harley sells “merica” to geriatric crowd. Now if Harley brings back Buell, that might be something. That might have bikes proud to be made in USA by being competitive instead of “oh yeah? I got more chrome than you”.

          1. Nix says:

            I always thought that this EV motorcycle would have been better branded under the Buell brand name, with more Buell-like seating position.

  7. KevinZ says:

    If it say’s Harley on it, and it’s not under powered, over priced, loud and vibrating, I don’t want one.

  8. Null says:

    Reminds me of the time they designed a bike that could compete with modern motorcycle designs in the 70’s.

    Never saw the light of day, and was a huge corporate secret for the longest time. Too bad it was a great bike.

    Instead they decided to die on the hill of “tradition”. As if a 20’s compromise to add a second cylinder onto an engine for bicycle conversion kit was the be all end all of engineering.

    I wonder if they’ll tow a trailer with a giant speaker with the attempted patented potato-potato sound.

  9. Bruce Miller says:

    All good things come to an end, even Coal Power.

  10. Ian says:

    Harley sales are down 2017. This will give them a boost as the first Harley Electric made in limited numbers will definitely sell out even if sold at a high price.

  11. wavelet says:

    “Harley-Davidson is serious about electric motorcycles, though. This was evident when it first unveiled its Project Livewire in 2014”
    ROFL. You realize that the Livewire bikes only have 50mi range, right? And that’s for a concept bike where prototype cost isn’t an issue.

    And H-D isn’t a motorcycle company, and hasn’t been for decades. They’re a lifestyle accessory company for middle-class midlife crisis folks who want to feel badass.

    They actually had a real owned-by-them motorcycle brand in Buell, who actually made the effort to make an entire range: beginner bikes, sportbikes, adventure tourers, do-it-all bikes & sport-tourers. So what did they do? Buell was making a profit, but not at quite the margin of the fancy cruisers, so they closed it down.

    1. Domenick Yoney says:

      The LiveWire had a 50-mile range because that was all that it needed. It was never intended to be a commercial model one could buy. It was a marketing tool to gauge interest from existing and potential clientele.

      And because it had a small battery, they could use more real estate for the motor and gearing, which really helped the look and gave it a distinctive sound.

      1. wavelet says:

        50mi is at most an hour’s ride. You don’t get any sort of idea of how a bike behaves/performs/”feels” in less than an hour. It’s not time enough to cover a range of road types, or terrain. Neither I nor any rider I know would take a bike we’re considering buying or just evaluating for a test ride for anything <4 hours.

        And all that holds for the engineering team as well… How would they know how the bike is if they never ride in for over an hour straight?

        Making 40 of the things and sending them out on a demo tour looks like it was a marketing tool, as you say… But it's a worthless one given the range. More likely, it was a PR effort.

        "And because it had a small battery, they could use more real estate for the motor and gearing"
        If the design was reliant on the small battery, it's even a more worthless marketing tool, as it wouldn't resemble any actual bike later on.
        BEV traction batteries are heavy, and affect center of gravity & handling a lot, not to mention performance.

        "which really helped the look and gave it a distinctive sound"
        Yeah, that's what H-D cares about, to the point they tried to trademark engine sound (and failed, since there's any number of other companies doing the same), and spent more money on their paint facility some years back than on any other part of the factory.

        Like I said, they're not a real motorcycle company, and don't care about riders or the future of riding.

  12. Mark C says:

    Looks like a Buell to me, not a Harley. Harley Davidson does not bring the image of a sport bike into my imagination.

    I don’t recall seeing a cruiser style electric motorcycle available for sale from anyone at any price, though.

    1. John says:

      Check out the Brutus V9.
      Pricey, but it exists.

    2. Domenick Yoney says:

      Her you go, then.

      https://insideevs.com/tacita-electric-cruiser-hits-road/

      You’re welcome. 🙂

      1. Kdawg says:

        I like the Tacita bike (other than the name T-Cruise… might as well call it “Maverick”)

        Price becomes an issue though with EV bikes. Even the Zero bikes are more than I want to spend. I think a cruiser style is going to cost more than any bike by Zero.

      2. Steven says:

        I saw this. It checks all the right boxes. I’ll be keeping an eye open for more details.

  13. William says:

    Two wheel HOG EV is for ME!

  14. Kevin C says:

    It’s good to know that the eardrum-bursting affection crowd is “aging out.”
    I used to ride “rice burners” and always appreciated they’re much quieter design.
    I doubt Harley’s violent, psy-opps loudness really prevents fatalities.
    Skill and luck go a long ways when everyone on 4 wheels is out to kill you.

  15. Don Zenga says:

    Aah. 5 years ago they had a design of this electric bike in their museum, but they never wanted to make it because they loved the gas. Now with other automakers getting in to act, they are following. Better late than never.

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