Harley-Davidson unveils its first electric motorcycle

Is the market ready for an all-electric motorcycle?


In 1903 William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson made their first motorcycle available to public. Now, more than one hundred years later, Harley-Davidson is coming out with another first for the company, an electric motorcycle called Project LiveWire.

But the company is being cautious with its new ride. Harley-Davidson announced today that it is taking Project LiveWire on a 30 city tour across the United States to get rider feedback that will help "shape the future of Harley-Davidson's first-ever electric motorcycle."

Harley-Davidson hopes the tour helps the company gain insights into consumer expectations for an electric Harley. That means the electric motorcycle won't go on sale until Harley-Davidson better understands the market for electric motorcycles in the U.S.

"Because electric vehicle technology is evolving rapidly, we are excited to learn more from riders through the Project LiveWire Experience to fully understand the definition of success in this market as the technology continues to evolve," said Mark-Hans Richer, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Harley-Davidson, in a press release.

Harley-Davidson didn't provide many details about the new bike. Time reports that the electric motorcycle generates 75 horsepower and accelerates from zero to 60 in four seconds, with a 92 mile per hour top speed and 100 miles of range. But one thing the company made sure to clear up right away is that the bike won't be quiet.

"The sound is a distinct part of the thrill," said Richer. "Think fighter jet on an aircraft carrier. Project LiveWire's unique sound was designed to differentiate it from internal combustion and other electric motorcycles on the market."

At this point it doesn't seem that Harley-Davidson has solved any of the challenges all-electric vehicles face: battery range, changing time, and charging infrastructure.

But the company is clearly betting that those issues will be addressed in the near future. As Harley-Davidson President Matt Levatich told AP:

"We think that the trends in both EV technology and customer openness to EV products, both automotive and motorcycles, is only going to increase, and when you think about sustainability and environmental trends, we just see that being an increasing part of the lifestyle and the requirements of riders," Levatich said. "So, nobody can predict right now how big that industry will be or how significant it will be."

While we all wait to see if they made the right bet on EVs, let's watch this video of the new electric motorcycle:

Photo: Harley-Davidson

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