Harley-Davidson has offered a little more more detail about its forthcoming LiveWire electric motorcycle, including information on its price tag. An asking price of US $29,799 (that’s £23,350 in current exchange rates) isn’t exactly pocket change but no one in their right mind would have expected Harley to make a cheap e-bike.
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“We’re at a historic juncture in the evolution of mobility, and Harley-Davidson is at the forefront,” said Harley-Davidson President and CEO Matt Levatich, conveniently forgetting that Zero Motorcycles has been in operation for some 15 years.
Nonetheless, it’s an exciting time as this (sort of) marks the first time a “traditional” major manufacturer has really put its weight behind an electric platform (unless we count Victory’s short-lived rebranding of the Brammo Empulse).
Harley chose this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas as the setting to deliver news about the bike, as well opening up pre-ordering for US customers via h-d.com/LiveWire. Prices and availability outside of Trumpistan have yet to be determined.
Harley isn’t yet offering performance figures but does say that the bike is capable of screaming from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, which, according to the internet, means it’s as fast as a 1996 Chevrolet Impala SS. Harley has gone to the trouble to trademark the name of its powertrain, calling it the “H-D Revelation™” (I cannot read that without rolling my eyes), and points out that – like all electric bikes – it delivers instant and consistent torque at all speeds. Cornering ABS and traction control will also be part of the package.
As far as the all-important question of range is concerned, prepare to be underwhelmed. Buried deep in Harley’s media release is this one sentence: “Able to travel an estimated 110 miles of urban roads on a single charge.” Compare that to the 179 miles of city riding claimed by the Zero SR ($16,495), or the 223 miles of city riding available from a PowerTank-equipped SR ($19,390).
Meanwhile, perhaps to please the CES crowd, Harley put special emphasis on the LiveWire’s connectivity, with all kinds of information being made available on your phone via an app. Information highlights include: motorcycle status (battery status, available range, remaining charging time, etc), tamper alerts, vehicle location, and service reminders.
(The Indian Motorcycle fanboy in me can’t help but point out that this effectively the same kind of app that Indian offers via its recently updated RideCommand system)
“Innovation that moves the body and soul has always been at the heart of our brand,” said Levatich. “This next chapter in our history is about creating products and opportunities for existing and aspiring riders of all ages and walks of life.”
As the price indicates, this bike seems destined to be targeted primarily at the luxury buyer, while paying lip service to the themes of urban mobility and All The Hip Kids. Though, you also get a sense that Harley’s marketing team feels a little out of its depth in trying to figure out who the hell is actually going to pay for the LiveWire. At CES, Levatich cast a very wide net of potential customers: “all ages, from urban professional to exurban retiree, and from commute-minded to thrill-seeking.”
I’m a little jealous of whoever does end up buying the thing because it is a good-looking bike, and I’m very much hoping I’ll manage to score an invite to the press launch when this thing is finally put in the hands of journos. Critics will attack this bike’s range when compared to less-expensive alternatives, and I think that’s fair, but I also don’t think the LiveWire should be written off as a pointless exercise. Ideally, it will spark mainstream interest and encourage more affordable alternatives.
Perhaps some of those alternatives will come from Harley itself. In addition to showing off the LiveWire, the Milwaukee brand also again displayed images of two electric concepts it’s been working on – a mountain bike (?) and a scooter (?!). It’s not known when (or if) we’ll see those.