Harley-Davidson introduced the original concept for the LiveWire in 2014. It was a bit of a breakthrough for the Milwaukee-based manufacturer because the LiveWire is technically a naked, not exactly Harley's flagship category, and it's electric.
Around a year ago, Harley said deliveries would begin in August 2019 but now, just a couple of months later, production has been suspended.
It is powered by a 3-phase induction electric motor, longitudinally-mounted, making 105 hp and and 86 torques and despite the heavy battery system and electric unit, it only weighs 210 kg. The top speed is electronically limited to 110 mph and zero-to-sixty is dealt with in 3 seconds.
According to Harley-Davidson, the LiveWire can travel around 140 miles between charges and the 15.5 kWh battery it comes with supports level 3 DC fast-charging. Now this is actually one of the quickest ways to recharge an electric vehicle but the fact of the matter is that it still takes an hour. The electric engine per se isn't an issue but, as ever, it only makes sense if you've got proper infrastructures near you. And I still think that batteries are a stopgap measure and we'll soon have to figure out a different why to charge vehicles.
I just came back from this year's EICMA where the LiveWire was proudly displayed against a white illuminated wall, in contrast with the rest of the Harley stand which was dark and rough-looking, as you'd expect from the marque. People were flocking in, constantly taking pictures, and I think you can see why because the LiveWire looks tremendous. However, while everybody seems enticed by the idea, apparently nobody is buying the actual product. It costs $29,799 which is not exactly loose change but I don't think that's the only reason why it hasn't worked out so far.
In the past, the main difference between cars and motorcycles was the number of wheels involved but now things are different because when in doubt, regulators always, always blame it, and tax it, on the car. And because they have been doing this for a long time, the automotive market has changed accordingly. I had a conversation with the CEO of the Italian division of a brand that does both cars and bikes and he said:
"We can't complain, it isn't easy (the motorcycles market) but still a lot easier than cars because the (car) market is driven by regulators, not demand. There's no margin or freedom of action."
I'm a big fan of electric cars, I've driven many of them and I realized that the EV will never kill the ICE, they'll just have to learn to coexist and it may take time. Some electric cars are amazing while others are terrible but when it comes to driving experience, when all is said and done, the one big and obvious difference between EVs and ICEs is the absence of sound. And I feel like that's somehow a bigger deal on a bike than it is on a car.