Harley-Davidson Reinventing Itself With The LiveWire Project.

Livewire1June 24 in New York, Harley-Davidson started its 30 cities tour to solicit your reactions to its environmentally friendly LiveWire electric concept motorcycle. Depending on the feedback, Harley said that its R&D will improve it with mass production on the horizon or simply trash it. Whatever you think of automotive electric technology, Harley-Davidson, like all other vehicle manufacturers, knows very well that electric cars and motorcycles are in your future, and consequently in theirs. The question is not if, but when the company will be able to offer a product you accept and demand enough to create a profitable mass market to address. For now most studies show that the e-motorcycles market in North America should grow by about 30% a year during the next decade.  A market disruption to be prepared to if you are a major motorcycle manufacturer… Nobody can deny that customers are increasingly open to the idea of electric cars and motorcycles. So, I am convinced that even if the LiveWire Project would be temporarily stalled or renamed, just the time necessary for improvements and integration of new technologies, it will never be abandoned. Harley is interested in the long-term potential of e-motorcycles, regardless of immediate demand. livewire3It’s at reinvention that America has always been the best country in the world. And I think it’s still true. No company can survive, last and remain successful without reinventing itself. With the LiveWire Project, Harley-Davidson is not the first manufacturer exploring the e-bike route. Contrary to others, Harley-Davidson doesn’t ask you if you want their e-bike by trying to sell you one. The company tries to find out which one you would buy in terms of design, performance, range and practicality (plug-in charging stations that can be Harley dealers? Your home or office when a charging standard will eventually be agreed on?) livewire2In less than one week, though your reactions in this website and other social medias, Harley-Davidson already knows that most of you find the LiveWire Project quite appealing in terms of aesthetics. A very good point because it means that visually an e-motorcycle is not incompatible with Harley’s history and design lineage. Well before unveiling the LiveWire pictures, they already knew that the core Harley riders, especially the baby-boomers, are not (yet) too much concerned about environmental awareness, but are much more attached to performance and autonomy. Harley doesn’t ask you to approve the current 53 miles range per charge. They know you don’t. They just want your reactions to evaluate your expectations and will meet them, whatever it takes in terms of time and investment. Same about acceleration, (currently 0 to 60 mph in 4 seconds.) What about the no-exhaust, almost silent electric engine? Object of many easy jokes, it’s not at all impossible that Harley will be able to replace the current jet airplane hum by a more uniquely Harley e-sound that has to be created. Something belonging only to Harley, making their electric motorcycles recognizable among all e-motorcycles. But which one will please the largest number of Harley fans? For sure a little bit louder than other electric bikes, but never the chug-a-chug of a combustion engine Harley. Harley’s challenge is to add the “rebel legitimacy” to its charge-up line up. livewire6Waiting for all these improvements, the Harley LiveWire Project is already a huge success in terms of marketing. Just think about the free worldwide publicity the company already got through all channels of communication, a very loud brand noise that will continue to buzz during the next 12 months and beyond. An interest so big that even the most skeptic core bikers would love to test ride one of the 22 electric Harleys currently on tour around the country. Last week, during its project announcement, Harley-Davidson said “There are milestones that change history. Those pivotal moments where the future is defined.” I think that the LiveWire Project is one of them for the Milwaukee manufacturer. I am also convinced that the company will very soon, with other manufacturers, participate and play a key role in helping develop electric motorcycle standards. The LiveWire project is the “Halo Bike” that will help Harley-Davidson shape and define its future.

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46 Responses to “Harley-Davidson Reinventing Itself With The LiveWire Project.”


  1. 1 Kenny Johnston Jun 26th, 2014 at 8:32 am

    Sharing your thoughtsl. Market disruption to be prepared to. Oh, yes.

  2. 2 Brandon Jun 26th, 2014 at 8:34 am

    Good analysis. But how long it will take to be disruptive. Maybe less than what most had initially thought. Tesla is surprising everybody. Watch their stock TSLA.

  3. 3 Shifter Jun 26th, 2014 at 8:38 am

    It’s true that all “skeptic” hard-core bikers want to try it. I see the H_D electric being offered for sale in the next 18 months.

  4. 4 Rodent Jun 26th, 2014 at 8:43 am

    NYC without traffic? Something ain’t right!

  5. 5 Joshua Jun 26th, 2014 at 8:50 am

    Rodent. How electric motorcycles lower NYC traffic???

  6. 6 JohnJ Texas Jun 26th, 2014 at 9:12 am

    Joshua… in the video!!! I hardly see any traffic crusing New York City while HD promoting their Live Wire video…

  7. 7 Joshua Jun 26th, 2014 at 9:14 am

    JohnJTexas. 6.15 am. Discreet police escort.

  8. 8 MMA Jun 26th, 2014 at 9:57 am

    It comes down to cost and range of the bike; but this is something I am interested in; more for a daily commuter than touring.

    I don’t think HD does everything flawlessly; but they are really doing a very good job of hitting a variety of different demographics in the motorcycle industry. That’s done in visual styling of the bikes, bike displacement, performance, and even motorclothes. They can put the baby boomer in something they will be interested in, and they can put today’s hipster in something they will be interested in.

  9. 9 mk Jun 26th, 2014 at 10:24 am

    It will come down to range and cost-

    I live 50 miles away from my work.. And there aint no plug in the parking lot (and i don’t think there’s any plan comming up)! So I would need a REAL 100 miles. Real meaning: after 1 year. [My battery experience is to lose 50% in the first year. ie: laptop, camcorder, camera.] So, for me, I’d need closer to 200 mile range before seriously considering this.

    I think they should package the bike with one of those little Honda generators.

  10. 10 TJ Martin Jun 26th, 2014 at 10:41 am

    As to the probability of the LiveWire’s success . A few reminders ; The Aermacchi’s – XLCR – all the Buells – the V-Rod …. and currently the Street 750 . Sum up ? Fail ! Nuff said !

    Time to review the good advice given to the company by Ms. Faith Popcorn ( ” The Popcorn Report ” ) back in the day . Advice well heeded then . And even more relevant today . Before yet another trip down Alice’s Rabbit Hole winds up a financial disaster as well

  11. 11 Bruce Jun 26th, 2014 at 10:49 am

    Change is inevitable. Except from a vending machine. Robert C. Gallagher

  12. 12 X H-D Rider Jun 26th, 2014 at 11:03 am

    Saw this yesterday and when I was out riding doing 60 mph I shut the bike off and wow no noise very cool.

    Face it when they come up with a long range battery we will all sell our bikes and never by gas again. 0 to 60 in 4sec now thats fast. Strap your boom box onand vroom vroom down the highway

  13. 13 Alan Kraus Jun 26th, 2014 at 11:49 am

    The vertical line array in the headlight LED lighting to achieve a wide field illumination, tells me that there was some real engineering done in the process of creation.

  14. 14 nicker Jun 26th, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    MC ergonomics….???

    Needs an I-phone AP to make vroom-vroom noises.
    Needs an eccentric shaft to give it vibration.
    Needs an electric fragrance generate to produce a gas & Oil smell.

    And it’ll need an Allan Alda spokes person to generate interest among the metro sexual crowd….. :-)

    -nicker-

  15. 15 Patrick Wagner Jun 26th, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    Nicker. Yep. And you will buy one when your friends own one.

  16. 16 FDW1 Jun 26th, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    I hear that in NYC the bike had an overwhelming success. People begging to try it.

  17. 17 Kurt Jun 26th, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    Cyril. Are there demo rides of The LiveWire in Sturgis?

  18. 18 Woody Jun 26th, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    Very well-written piece, and a great strategy. The biggest plus for current (no pun intended) electric bikes is the amazing performance of DC motors, so it makes complete sense to develop a sport model bike first. “Killer performance and fine for short trips” already describes a lot of expensive toys not used as a primary mode of transportation anyway. What I DON’T like is all the political BS, subsidies and leverage used with any kind of electric vehicles. Remember during the 70s gas crisis when people were threatened with fines & jail for avoiding vehicle fuel taxes by filling up their diesel Rabbits from home heating oil tanks? How is it different now using home electricity for a vehicle fuel?

  19. 19 Septic the Sceptic Jun 26th, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    I’d own one.

  20. 20 Dave Blevins Jun 26th, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    re: “regardless of immediate demand’”

    Well, they made electric cars over 100 YEARS AGO. There is, and has never been, a demand.

  21. 21 Greg Salvy Jun 26th, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    D. Blevins. Are we 100 years ago? In case you didn’t notice in 1 century everything has changed. Demand is growing for all 4 & 2 wheel elec. vehicles. It’s a fact. EPA will kill the combustion engine. The day you will get a good elec. bike at a competitive price sales are going to take off. Good product and marketing strategy from Harley.

  22. 22 felix Jun 26th, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    NO AUDIO??

  23. 23 Gary Jun 26th, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    One day fuel gas stations are going to disappear like telephone booths did. They will be converted in charge stations. No coming back. If you disagree you don’t understand how our world is evolving and yes, progressing. Not tomorrow, note after tomorrow, but soon after.

  24. 24 Admin Jun 26th, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    Harley provided this video with no audio. Not sure why. On purpose or not?

  25. 25 Dave Blevins Jun 26th, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    Greg Salvy,
    I have been watching people not buy them (electric vehicles) for 50 years, if I live to be 100, they still will not be selling. You can quote me on that today, or 50 years from today.
    I’m not saying they are good, bad, or anything either way… just saying that nobody buys this kind of thing in any real numbers and they never have. No indication they ever will.

  26. 26 Kurt Jun 26th, 2014 at 10:36 pm

    They are not selling? Among other sources of info you should know about Elon Musk & Tesla.

  27. 27 nicker Jun 26th, 2014 at 11:02 pm

    Call me when you can store as much energy in a batter as ya can in a tank of gas.
    Or a tank of Propane.
    Or a tank of LNG.
    Or a tank of Hydrogen.
    Or a tank of Alcohol.

    -nicker-

  28. 28 Scotty Jun 26th, 2014 at 11:10 pm

    Dave Blevins. A skeptic is not the one who doubts, but the who investigates or researches, as opposed to the who asserts and thinks that he knows. If you are a skeptic, look for objective facts like sales of e-bikes. Yes, they grow & grow, from moped to scooters to motorcycles.

    Nicker. what kind of energy you talk about? What you say means absolutely nothing. Evidently you don’t know how an electric motorcycle works.

  29. 29 nicker Jun 26th, 2014 at 11:10 pm

    Patric….

    Didn’t your parents ever clue you in …….??? “Life isn’t a popularity contest”

    I one-o those people who doesn’t need “friends.”

    And i certainly don’t need to buy useless stuff.

    -nicker-

  30. 30 Mick Jun 27th, 2014 at 12:35 am

    I have been looking at the electric vehicles for last year an if they can build something that fits a full size adult I’d buy one. If it is going to be a hybrid I would prefer to see it run on natural gas. VIA motors is converting chevy trucks to all electric, with the gas motors just running the generators. I think we shouldand would all back electric if we knew it was being designed and manufactored her in the US. Even GMC is offering Cng on it 2500 series, they are charging an arm, and leg for it . But guys like me that will drive a truck 300’000 and decide it maybe time for new will be ahead in long run.

    The bottom line here is if you want this venture to work it has to priced correctly and efficient. Average commute for Me is 80 miles . With all the hot charge stations popping it want be long before you can get charge as fast as you fill it fuel… Bike has to built here in the US from ground up.

    I believe electric bikes car are coming like it or not, so let braise it and make it truly and American product.

    Blue bear

  31. 31 Mike Jun 27th, 2014 at 6:20 am

    HD has truly impressed me here. I will be a buyer.

    I am a diehard gear-head who loves loud internal combustion engines, but once the battery and range issue is improved, I will never buy another gasoline vehicle again. I am so tired of being price-gouged by the big oil/gas companies who have taken full advantage of all of us now taking for granted that gas will never be under $3.00 to $4.00 a gallon again.

  32. 32 Woody Jun 27th, 2014 at 7:04 am

    At Mike – have not noticed recent events to kill off our low cost electricity? Are you ready for gouging by mileage taxes?

  33. 33 drew Jun 27th, 2014 at 9:38 am

    Was at H-D Thursday afternoon, and had a chance to speak with the senior design engineer of the Livewire before the display actually opened. This is a cool motorcycle. It has two settings “Power” or “Tour”. On the Tour setting it has a 53 mile range, and a 3.5 hour recharge time. No it is not being designed for coast to coast riding, but I feel it still has a good purpose. 0-60 mph in 4 seconds too.

  34. 34 Joe H Jun 27th, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    How will the fuckin owners know it’s started without throttling it 5 or 6 times?

  35. 35 Leif Jun 27th, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    I sat on it at the museum on Thursday. It was identical to my son’s Buell 1125cr in feel and seating position.

  36. 36 Jusmecuz Jun 28th, 2014 at 8:10 am

    It’s cool and all but I don’t foresee that transition anytime soon. For that to happen, there would have to be something huge – on an iconic scale…. kinda like Henry Fonda & Jack Nicholson did. That wasn’t planned – it just happened, and I don’t ever see it happening again. Who knows, maybe something will come along one day and inspire the rebirth of a new subculture….. the e-bike outlaws.

  37. 37 James just another Crazy Kiwi Jun 28th, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    A soulless electrical appliance, might as well be a hair dryer.
    HD spent allot of dosh patenting the potato potato sound which the twinky is not capable of because it is unhealthy to idle at low revs.
    Any way, what are they going to patent now “Whiiiiiiiizzz”
    “Hope I die before I get old , things they do look awfully cold” (The Who)

  38. 38 nicker Jun 29th, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    Well,
    If 0-carbon-foot-print, silent, low-maintenance, unobtrusive transportation that has no fuel limitations is the goal……. why not ride a bicycles….. ???

    Peddle your way form coast to coast, no “Haters(?)” and totally Politically Correct.
    (an Alan Alda dream come true)

    -nicker-

  39. 39 Mike Corbin.com Jun 30th, 2014 at 8:12 am

    Fantastic

  40. 40 Mike Corbin.com Jun 30th, 2014 at 8:29 am

    Fantastic “

  41. 41 Boots Jun 30th, 2014 at 9:06 am

    With what is going on in Washington DC I’m afraid by the time the electric Harley is available the cost will be pretty much what it is now to run a gas motorcycle. With the elimination of coal as a power producer, the price of electricity is going to go through the roof and it will definitely stifle the production of electric cars and motorcycles!

  42. 42 Emmett Jun 30th, 2014 at 9:59 am

    Electric vehicles have their place I guess. Range limited now for sure and perhaps in the future that will improve. Impressive acceleration for sure, but whatever their anointed place will become, it won’t become in my garage anytime too soon. Even when I am “brewing up” my own fuel. But if it charges your batteries, then ride on ,sir!! Ride on and you’ll still get a raise from me!

  43. 43 BCinSoCal Jun 30th, 2014 at 10:29 am

    Agreed Mike, fantastic, not right now, not in my lifetime, but it’s the future, get over it doubters.

  44. 44 Mike Corbin Jun 30th, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Corbin is installing the new standard charging station on our Hollister building.

    We will be ready for visits from HD , ZERO , Lightning + Sparrow riders.

    The U S standard charging station is known as a J 1772 plug, 220 volt / 30 amp.

    iPhone has an app to locate stations throughout the US.

    Terry Hershner has crossed the US on a ZERO electric with Craig Vetter aerodynamics.

    The time is now.

    By the end of this Century, the World will run on solar.

  45. 45 nicker Jun 30th, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    Mike,

    Enjoy running your business as long as ya-can.

    At the rate of “Change” we’re currently undergoing, “…by the end of this Century…” we’ll all be slaves to a One World Command and control Government run by the likes of Cecil Rhodes, Woodrow Wilson, Henry Ford, and the Rockefeller clan.

    And all we’ll have is driver-less pods to get us to where “They” want us to go.

    When every body who can demonstrate a need for transportation is issued a “People’s Pod” the J2008 standard will be a relic of the “Good Ol Days.”

    -nicker-

  46. 46 Tom Ryan Jul 2nd, 2014 at 11:06 am

    Everyone is concerned about the cost of today’s gasoline. If you were to charge up your new electric motorcycle in the future, are they going to charge you the equivalent of buying three to five gallons of gasoline that you’re paying today? That is the question people aren’t asking!

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