Harley Davidson Beta Tests An Electric Motorcycle
June 20, 2014

Harley Davidson Beta Tests An Electric Motorcycle

We all think of Harley Davidson motorcycles as rumbling down the street with that unmistakable roar from the exhaust. Anyone who has driven one can attest to that classic, vibrating feel of one of America’s favorite motorcycles.

However, to keep up with the ever-changing times, Harley Davidson is launching a beta test program to receive consumer input for Project LiveWire — their first electric motorcycle. The bike won’t be available for sale to the general public, but it will be available for test drives around the country in hopes to receive feedback from consumers, according to PC magazine.

“America at its best has always been about reinvention and, like America, Harley Davidson has reinvented itself many times in our history, which customers leading us every step of the way. Project LiveWire is another exciting, customer-led moment in our history,” Harley-Davidson COO Matt Levatich said in a statement.

The project begins in New York the last week of June, 2014, with a tour down Route 66, stopping at over 30 Harley Davidson dealerships, continuing into 2015, and expanding into Canada and Europe. The journey will continue into Boston, then Philadelphia, and other cities along the way. The future of the project will be influenced by user feedback during the Harley Davidson tour.

Jeff Richlen, chief engineer of new products calls the bike, “nimble, agile and light” and will win the hearts of all riders, including Harley Davidson traditionalist, after they take a test drive. “This is the type of vehicle that is a game changer. A traditional rider won’t confuse it, but it is such an amazing experience. It’s just fun,” he said, according to ABC News.

According to the company, even if you don’t have a motorcycle driver’s license, you can still participate in the experiment via the Jumpstart simulated riding experience.

“Project LiveWire is more like the first electric guitar—not an electric car. It’s an expression of individuality and iconic style that just happens to be electric,” Mark-Hans Richer, chief marketing officer, said in comparison to other electric vehicles all ready on the road, according to the BBC.

You won’t hear that unmistakable rumble; instead it is an all-new sound that Richer calls, “a distinct part of the thrill.”

“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,” he said. “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.”

Richlen told ABC News, “As the bike flies by, it sounds like a jet fighter.” The motor itself is quiet, but the meshing of the gears sounds like a jet or a turbine.

“Some people may get on it thinking, ‘golf cart’, and they get off thinking, ‘rocket ship’,” Richlen adds in an article published by the Telegraph.

“We think that the trends in both EV [electric vehicle] 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. So, nobody can predict right now how big that industry will be or how significant it will be,” Levatich said.

LiveWire can go from 0-60 in about four seconds. “Harley purists are going to love it. You get off the bike and just want to ride again.” Although it is quick and a joy to ride, it’s not quite ready for long road trips. It can go about 130 miles on a charge that takes 30 minutes to an hour to fully recharge.

“We are moving toward zero emissions cities and motorbike manufacturers, like car manufacturers have to go that way.

In an ideal world I expect that they want it to go faster and further than it will.” Peter Wells, co-director of the automotive industry research group at Cardiff Business School said.

For more details on the bike, as well as dates and locations for the tour, visit Project LiveWire’s website.

Image Credit: Harley Davidson

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