Harley-Davidson has for a number of years dispatched an engineer to SAE's annual Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Symposium for the purpose of gathering intel and making contacts in the EV field. One tangible result of Harley's SAE participation is Project LiveWire, the company’s first electric motorcycle concept. The Motor Company built 33 examples at a cost of more than $200,000 each, for the purpose of soliciting feedback from customers and media regarding the bike's performance, technologies, and styling. Harley-Davidson is also offering a simulated riding experience through Jumpstart for customers who do not ride, the company noted.
LiveWire engineers led by project chief engineer Jeff Richlen designed the machine's powertrain around a 3-phase ac induction motor that produces 74 hp (55 kW) at 8500 rpm and 52 lb·ft (71 N·m) of torque immediately off idle, according Richlen. The electric bike is Harley-Davidson’s lightest product, with a claimed curb weight of 463 lb (210 kg). In comparison, H-D's new Street 500 and Street 750 V-twins tip the scales at 489 lb (222 kg).
The bike’s battery pack contains lithium-ion battery cells. Because the EV is still in development and only for demonstration, Harley engineers are not focusing on pack size or capacity. Rather, they're focusing on the bike’s potential and gathering feedback, Richlen said. Harley held a media ride with a small fleet of LiveWire EVs in Manhattan on June 24, and writers who attended praised the bike's overall balance and suspension, while noting its limited range--60 mi (97 km) per charge.
Harley-Davidson also announced it is hiring several positions to support EV development and its electrical engineering resources, as well as working on Project LiveWire and similar endeavors.