Harley-Davidson takes its first steps into the electric vehicle market with its first prototype electric motorcycle.
Harley-Davidson has announced its first electric motorcycle, Project Livewire. Harley-Davidson revealed the new electric motorcycle prototype on June 19. The bike is not yet in production, but invited guests will get a first look at demonstration models at an event in New York on Monday, June 23. The electric motorcycle will then tour the US, Canada, and Europe to get feedback from motorcycle riders taking test rides. Based on feedback from fans, Harley-Davidson will decide whether to bring the bike to market.
Electric motorcycles aren't uncommon, but most are scooters or smaller motorcycles aimed at commuters. Harley-Davidson's prototype is a full-size, high-powered electric motorcycle. The electric motor runs silent, lacking the rumble of a typical gasoline-powered Harley, but meshing gears make the bike sound like a jet engine taking off. The prototype goes from 0 to 60 mph in less than four seconds, but its battery power will limit the distance it can go without recharging. Typical batteries require recharging at a supercharger station after about 130 miles. The prototype also features a touchscreen display between the handlebars.
"Racing was a key inspiration for its design," says Harley-Davidson in a statement about Project Livewire. "We wanted the machine to make an aggressive statement on the adrenalin-packed thrill of pure power. And, just as in our internal combustion bikes, the engine is the jewel of the motorcycle - the visual centerpiece. The Project LiveWire Motorcycle's longitudinal powertrain is inspired by the superchargers used on top fuel dragsters."
The current demand for full-size electric motorcycles is small. Zero Motorcycles, a full-size electric motorcycle manufacturer, expects to sell only 2,400 electric motorcycles this year. Compared to the 260,000 conventional motorcycles sold by Harley-Davidson last year, the full-size electric motorcycle market is tiny. However, enthusiasm for electric vehicles is growing, supported by electric car manufacturer Tesla opening up its patents and Google's electric self-driving car prototype, so demand could soon grow considerably. Plus, the more electric vehicles there are on the road, the more demand there is for supercharger stations to recharge them and make longer trips feasible. While the only motorcycle I'm planning to ride any time soon is an Azeroth Chopper, I can see the appeal of an sleek-looking electric bike that sounds like a jet.