Earlier this year the Harley-Davidson LiveWire Concept wowed motorcycle fans who weren’t expecting such a forward-looking vehicle from a company built on tradition. While the reaction to the Harley LiveWire was overwhelmingly positive, with just 50 miles of range and an estimated $50,000 price tag, it’s not quite ready for primetime.
The Journal-Sentinel was on hand as the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council’s annual conference when Harley president Matt Levatich rolled in on the LiveWire. While Harley-Davidson has worked to integrate cleaner engines and lighter components into its bikes, as well as pledging to plant some 50 million trees, the LiveWire is its first attempt at a zero emissions vehicle.
It was never meant for production, but rather as a means to gauge the public’s reaction, and perhaps surprise would-be buyers as well. Many Harley fans were expecting performance on par with an electric golf kart, but as our own Susanna Schick found out, Harley made sure the performance was there for everybody to feel. Instant torque is something you only get with electric motors after all.
But as positive as the response to the power was, customers also let Harley-Davidson know that they’re only willing to pay about $25,000 for a motorcycle like the LiveWire. That’s about half what it would cost to bring the LiveWire to market today, as customers also want 100 miles of driving range compared to the 50 miles offered on the concept.
That doesn’t mean Harley is giving up on electric motorcycles though; quite the opposite in fact. Accord to Levatich, Harley-Davidson wants to be a part of the sustainable “conversation” going on in the transportation industry, and as more powerful and lower-cost batteries come to market the iconic motorcycle will be ready to enter the market with a more viable product.
In the meantime dedicated electric motorcycle companies like Brammo and Zero Motorcycles are gathering steam and building brands all their own. I understand that Harley is in no rush to roll out a half-assed electric motorcycle, and I can certainly appreciate that. On the other hand, two start-ups have already shown it’s possible to build an electric motorcycle people will buy, so here’s hoping Harley doesn’t sit on the sidelines too much longer.
From the sounds of it though, they won’t be.