MILWAUKEE (AP) — Harley-Davidson will unveil its first electric motorcycle next week, and President Matt Levatich said he expects the company known for its big touring bikes and iconic brand to become a leader in developing technology and standards for electric vehicles.
Harley will show handmade demonstration models Monday at an invitation-only event in New York. The company will then take several dozen riders on a 30-city tour to test drive the bikes and provide feedback. Harley will use the information it gathers to refine the bike, which might not hit the market for several more years.
The venture is a risk for Harley because there's currently almost no market for full-size electric motorcycles. The millions of two-wheeled electric vehicles sold each year are almost exclusively scooters and low-powered bikes that appeal to Chinese commuters. But one analyst said investment by a major manufacturer could help create demand, and Levatich emphasized in an interview with The Associated Press that Harley is interested in the long-term potential, regardless of immediate demand.
"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."
At the same time, Levatich and others involved in creating the sleek, futuristic LiveWire predicted it would sell based on performance, not environmental awareness. With no need to shift gears, the slim, sporty bike can go from 0 to 60 mph in about 4 seconds. The engine is silent, but the meshing of gears emits a hum like a jet airplane taking off.
"Some people may get on it thinking, 'golf cart,'" lead engineer Jeff Richlen said. "And they get off thinking, 'rocket ship.'"
View galleryIn this Wednesday, June 18, 2014 photo, employee Ben …
In this Wednesday, June 18, 2014 photo, employee Ben Lund demonstrates Harley's new electric mot …
One hurdle the company has yet to address is the limited range offered by electric motorcycles. The batteries must be recharged after about 130 miles, and that can take 30 minutes to an hour.
San Jose State University police Capt. Alan Cavallo helped his department buy two bikes from Zero Motorcycles, the current top-selling brand, and said officers have been "super happy" with the quiet, environmentally friendly bikes made nearby in Scotts Valley, California. But he said American riders who like to hit the highway would likely lose patience with the technology.
"That's the deal with the cars; you can't jump in a Tesla and drive to LA, it won't make it," Cavallo said, adding later, "People want the convenience of 'I pull into a gas station, I pour some gas in my tank and I go.'"
Zero Motorcycles introduced its first full-size motorcycle in 2010 and expects to sell about 2,400 bikes this year, said Scott Harden, the company's vice president of global marketing. That would give it about half of the global market for full-size, high-powered electric motorcycles.
In comparison, Harley-Davidson alone sold more than 260,000 conventional motorcycles last year.
But John Gartner, a research director for the consulting firm Navigant Research, said having large, well-funded companies get into the electric motorcycle market could give it a significant boost. The major automakers helped drive sales for hybrid and electric cars, he noted.
"Their marketing budgets are much larger and they have dealerships set up everywhere, and so it's much easier for companies like Ford, BMW and Honda to advertise about their electric vehicles," he said.
Levatich said true growth will require common standards for rapid charging and other features, as well as places for people to plug in. Harley expects to play a key role in developing electric vehicle standards, and its dealership network could provide charging stations to serve all drivers, he said.
"We've been very silent up to this point about our investment in EV technology," Levatich said. "... but now that we're public, and we're in this space, we expect to be involved and a part of leading the development of the standards, and the technology and the infrastructure necessary to further the acceptance and the utility of electric vehicles." http://news.yahoo.com/harley-davidso...115943100.html
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HARLEY-DAVIDSON REVEALS PROJECT LIVEWIRE, THE FIRST ELECTRIC HARLEY-DAVIDSON MOTORCYCLE
H-D Invites Consumers to Ride, React and Shape the Future of this New Bike
NEW YORK (June 19, 2014) – Innovation, meet heritage. Today, Harley-Davidson (NYSE:HOG) reveals Project LiveWire – the first Harley-Davidson® electric motorcycle.
In keeping with the company's customer-led product development approach, starting next week select consumers across the country will be able to ride and provide feedback on the bike, helping to shape the future of Harley-Davidson's first-ever electric motorcycle.
While not for sale, Project LiveWire is specifically designed for the purpose of getting insight into rider expectations of an electric Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
"America at its best has always been about reinvention," said Matt Levatich, President and Chief Operating Officer, Harley-Davidson Motor Company. "And, like America, Harley-Davidson has reinvented itself many times in our history, with customers leading us every step of the way. Project LiveWire is another exciting, customer-led moment in our history."
Spurred by this heritage, the Project LiveWire Experience invites customers to test ride, provide feedback and learn more about the story of the motorcycle. Even those who don't yet ride will have the opportunity to feel the power of Project LiveWire through Jumpstart – a simulated riding experience.
A 2014 U.S. tour – kicking off with a journey down Route 66 – will visit more than 30 Harley-Davidson dealerships now through the end of the year. In 2015, the Project LiveWire Experience will continue in the U.S. and expand into Canada and Europe.
"This builds on many recent reinvention successes for Harley-Davidson." said Levatich. "In just the last few years, we've broadened our reach to serve an increasingly diverse society, as well as reinvented our approach to product development and manufacturing. This has resulted in cutting-edge products like the recently launched Project Rushmore touring bikes, Harley-Davidson Street 500 and 750 models and this reveal of Project LiveWire."
An Innovative Approach to Advance the Possibilities of Personal Freedom
This exciting new ride blends the company's styling heritage with the latest technology to deliver a new expression of the signature Harley-Davidson look, sound and feel.
"Project LiveWire is more like the first electric guitar – not an electric car," said Mark-Hans Richer, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Harley-Davidson Motor Company. "It's an expression of individuality and iconic style that just happens to be electric. Project LiveWire is a bold statement for us as a company and a brand."
The bike offers a visceral riding experience with tire-shredding acceleration and an unmistakable new sound.
"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."
Longer term plans for retail availability of Project LiveWire will be influenced by feedback from riders along the Project Livewire Experience tour.
"We offer a no excuses riding experience in everything we do and we are led by what our customers tell us matters most," said Richer. "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."
Helping Preserve and Renew the Freedom to Ride for Generations
As riding in the great outdoors is one of the best elements of motorcycling, sustainability remains a core strategic focus at Harley-Davidson.
"Preserving the riding environment is important to all of us," said Levatich. "Project LiveWire is just one element in our efforts to preserve and renew the freedom to ride for generations to come. As a company that has seen success for 111 years, we think in generational terms about our great riding environments for the next 111 years."
Fans can learn more about Project LiveWire, as well as specific dates and locations for Project LiveWire Experience stops at projectlivewire.com. Harley-Davidson also invites anyone who is interested in the possibilities of the future to follow and engage with the company on its social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Harley-Davidson Motor Company produces heavyweight custom, cruiser and touring motorcycles and offers a complete line of Harley-Davidson motorcycle parts, accessories, riding gear and apparel, and general merchandise. For more information, visit Harley-Davidson's website at www.h-d.com.
The biggest problem is not brand recognition, it's the target population.
Harley's buyers look like this:
And electric motorcycle riders look like this:
An admittedly old stereotype, but, basically you are correct.
Not only that, but the fact that hundreds of thousands of conventional Harley-riders make the long trek across the country each year for the Memorial Day Rolling Thunder event in Washington, D.C. That would be difficult for a lot of them to do with electric bikes, as charging stations aren't available everywhere, and range is limited.
(Plus, there isn't much "Thunder" in an electric bike)
Engine: AC Induction Motor
Power: 74 HP / 52 LB-FT
0-60 Time: 4.0 Seconds (est.)
Top Speed: 92 MPH
Drivetrain: Rear-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight: 360 LBS (est.)
MPG: 60-Mile Range (est.)
Days before Harley-Davidson shocked the world with news that after 111 years of building increasingly larger, gas-powered V-twins, it was going all Tesla with its plug-in electric LiveWire, I had the chance to ride it.
The country's largest and most iconic motorcycle maker had set up shop on a remote strip of SoCal asphalt, a pair of top-secret LiveWires at the ready. The trailer that had carried them was unmarked, and with the exception of two Harley employees, no one was around to notice that the motorcycle silently blazing down the runway was from Milwaukee's finest. If it weren't for the black-and-orange color scheme or bar-and-shield badge, the LiveWIre's provenance would be a wild guess. It's just that different from the cruisers Harley has cranked out for decades.
Gone is the laid-back riding position, along with the bigger-is-better profile and long-haul-touring floorboards. In their place: a compact machine with an aggressive, forward-leaning stance and sporty centered foot pegs. Even the trellis frame is more Ducati than hog, hiding, as it does, a stack of lithium ion batteries instead of proudly showcasing a hulking, 103-cubic-inch V-twin. There is no gas tank. No exhaust. Just a bobbed tail suspended on a monoshock above a rear tire driven with a belt instead of a chain.
The LiveWire ignition is keyless and, like most Harleys, works in combination with a fob, but that's where the similarities end. Turning it on is a matter of flipping a switch on the right grip – an act that isn't greeted with the nearly trademarked, and now electronically programmed, potato-potato-potato exhaust note. Instead, there is a low-grade hum as an oil pump kicks in to cool the 74-horsepower electric motor bolted to its belly and a second pump that cools its ECU.
Before I could take off, I was prompted to make a decision: Power or Range? On a full charge, Power allows about 30 miles of riding with an unbridled 52 pound-feet of torque. Range mode Novocaines the throttle response but nearly doubles the distance.
I made the only logical choice. I touched my gloved finger to the screen to select Power. The throttle was live.
While its useable range is an issue, Harley got a lot of things right with its LiveWire, including its name. Twisting the grip nearly jolted me from the saddle with acceleration similar to that of a Ferrari. While the torque rating of the LiveWire is about half of a gas-powered 2014 Harley tourer, it is instantly available. Harley claims a 0-60 time of four seconds flat. I wasn't wired to corroborate the claim, but my speedometer was calculating as quickly as Stephen Hawking as I got the LiveWire to its governed top speed of 92 miles per hour, with plenty of runway to spare.
The only sound from the bike was a slight whir that increased in pitch with speed. Harley custom designed the note to replicate a jet engine, but, to my ears, it sounds like the other two electric motorcycles that are currently duking it out in the market: Zero Motorcycles and Brammo. The "Loud Pipes Save Lives" Harley brigade is likely to have a tough time with LiveWire in this regard.
Compared to the existing electric motorcycles on the market, the LiveWire is similar in its responsiveness off the line to the 2014 models from Zero and Brammo, but it offers only half the range. Its motor and battery placement, dual ride modes and regenerative braking setup were clearly benchmarked, though the way Harley has chosen to disguise its powertrain is unique and probably the most attractive of the bunch. Even though this isn't a production bike, the LiveWire's fit and finish also far surpasses its rivals.
I've been testing electric motorcycles since 2000, and Harleys since 2000. I started with the Heritage Softail, a bike I rode with Hells Angels founder Sonny Barger. That relationship continued on to last year when Harley broke with its air-cooled tradition and introduced liquid cooling on some of its most popular models. Most recently, I've ridden its brand-new 2015 Street 750 – Harley's first all-new platform in 13 years.
The LiveWire doesn't just push Harley into the future with a bike whose character is radically different from anything else it's so far produced, it severs most ties to its past as the brand endeavors to reshape itself as a forward-thinking innovator instead of a trader in nostalgia.
In development since 2010, the LiveWire is designed to attract women, young adults, city folk and other brand-new non-riders to a marque that has long been dominated by male baby boomers. With the LiveWire, Harley has succeeded in making a bike so exceptionally easy to ride that even voluptuously petite Scarlett Johansson can do it. At least, that's how it will appear next summer in Avengers: Age of Ultron, which features the bike.
The typical Harley is a cruiser, characterized by a long wheelbase that keeps it stable in a straight line at speed but makes it more challenging to turn. The LiveWire is shorter, more nimble and significantly lighter weight, so, while it accelerates like a dragster, it corners more like a Japanese sport bike. Lacking an enormous engine, there's no vibration transmitting to the handlebars, nor is there any heat to sizzle riders' thighs.
The lack of a transmission or clutch makes riding easy. On the LiveWire, the left hand and foot are officially free from shifting duty, negating the need to coordinate all four appendages.
Slowing down involves the usual throttle roll off, but it's enhanced. Closing the throttle activates a battery recharge system that harnesses the kinetic energy from slowing. The feeling is similar to engine braking, except there isn't an engine. Nor is there a downshift. To slow down more quickly or stop, riders still need to brake, and the LiveWire is happy to oblige with smooth, quick-acting discs that would be just as at home on a Gixxer.
Because the LiveWire is a concept, not a production bike, Harley isn't providing complete specs for the bike nor giving members of the media full-length test rides. However, the company has let slip that the bike weighs around 360 pounds, less than half the gorilla-ish 800 pounds of a typical Harley. It takes about 3.5 hours to achieve a full battery using the company's Level 2 charger.
Starting this week, Harley-Davidson will set off on twin tours with small fleets of the LiveWire to solicit feedback and decide when or if it will even go into production. Licensed motorcycle riders can test the LiveWire for themselves during 20-minute demo rides at 30 Harley dealerships around the country, as the company has built at least 22 LiveWires to split between the East Coast and the West Coast. Check out ProjectLiveWire.com for a list of dates and dealers. Reservations are required, but they're worth it.