What to expect from LiveWire, Harley-Davidson’s brand of electric motorcycles
Last month, Harley-Davidson announced that it was launch of LiveWire as a separate brand dedicated to electric motorcycles, with the first model of the LiveWire brand to be unveiled on July 8. Now that we’re halfway there, we thought we would take a look at recent developments in the LiveWire brand and what to expect from this month’s launch.
Discuss this story more on our HD LiveWire forum
First up, a recap of what Harley-Davidson says LiveWire, the brand, will be. According to Jochen Zeitz, CEO of Harley-Davidson: “By launching LiveWire as a fully electric brand, we are seizing the opportunity to lead and define the electric vehicle market. With a mission to be the world’s most desirable electric motorcycle brand, LiveWire will pioneer the future of motorcycling, for the pursuit of urban adventure and beyond. LiveWire also plans to innovate and develop technology that will be applicable to Harley-Davidson electric motorcycles in the future. “
LiveWire will operate primarily from two different hubs, at Harley’s original base in Milwaukee, Wisc., And Silicon Valley, California, at a center called “LiveWire Labs”. The new brand will work with participating dealers from the extensive Harley-Davidson dealer network, but will also open its own dedicated electric vehicle showrooms.
Motorcycle.com can now confirm that the premiere of these LiveWire-owned showrooms will be at Canoga Park in Los Angeles, California. Over the past two weeks, Harley-Davidson has posted several vacancies for the Canoga Park location, including for a dealership general manager, sales consultant, maintenance technician, finance manager and office manager. Obviously, HD intends to roll out this new dealership for next month’s launch. Harley-Davidson also recently posted several software and engineering jobs related to electric vehicles for its two hubs.
So what can we expect from next month’s launch? All Harley-Davidson has confirmed so far is that the “First LiveWire Brand Motorcycle” will be announced on July 8th. The motorcycle’s first public appearance was scheduled for the next day at the International Motorcycle Show in Irvine, California. The Progressive IMS has since been forced to reschedule this event as the original location was no longer available. Harley-Davidson hasn’t said anything official, but we expect the July 8 announcement to go as planned, with the public debut likely taking place at the upcoming IMS event, July 16-18 at Sonoma Raceway. in Sonoma, California.
Assuming the July 8 event takes place, it’s still unclear what will be revealed. The simplest assumption is that the first LiveWire brand motorcycle is… the LiveWire. Technically, Harley-Davidson hasn’t officially announced LiveWire 2021 (we’ll call it by its model code “ELW” from now on to avoid confusion), although it did show photos of the ELW with the new logo of the sub-brand. On the company’s press site, however, the ELW is still presented with last year’s colors and the Harley-Davidson branding. It stands to reason that LiveWire will unveil ELW 2021 with more color options next month.
If it did, however, it would be quite disappointing. More interesting would be if Harley finally put one of its electric concept models into production.
The most intriguing of these concepts is an “average” electric model that would present a more affordable option than the $ 30,000 ELW. Harley-Davidson had previously shown two sketches of this model. The first is on the left in the composite above, and the second is pictured below.
In this last sketch, the model is labeled “EDT600R”, which probably means “Electric Dirt Tracker”. The EDT600R once featured prominently in the future models section of the Harley-Davidson website, but as we were the first to notice, the sketch was quietly withdrawn at some point late last year.
Could the EDT600R be the first LiveWire branded model? If it does, we think it won’t have the same flat tracking style that the sketches describe it. Styling its first bike with design cues from the company’s flat track history would be a step backwards if Harley-Davidson intends to establish LiveWire as its own brand. As we pointed out with the new logo, LiveWire appears to be forging its own course in the industry. A redesigned model with the same bones may be more likely.
A second contender is the lightweight concept inspired by off-road motorcycles, one of the two Harley-Davidsons debuted at the X Games in 2019. Harley-Davidson has made little mention of the concept since then, but we can confirm that the Development continued, with a couple of patent applications filed in 2020. One patent was for the concentric swing-arm electric motor and another for maintaining a balance between drive torque and regenerative braking.
With its large, thin wheels and lightweight frame, the concept is more bike-like, but its throttle grip and fixed pegs technically make it a motorcycle and a candidate for next month’s launch.
A third contender, and we think he’s the most likely to come next month, is the other concept that Harley-Davidson showcases at the X Games. With more than one scooter form factor, it’s debatable if this still counts as a motorcycle, but it fits LiveWire’s stated purpose of the urban market.
We can also confirm that the development of this electric scooter has progressed to the point that Harley-Davidson saved designs for what appears to be a production-ready model.
Discuss this story more on our electric motorcycle forum
We’ll know for sure what Harley-Davidson has in store for the LiveWire brand on July 8. Until then, we’ll keep an eye out for any new developments.
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