With growing global concern about climate change, there have been calls from Europe and the U.S. to ban motorcycles because of environmental concerns. Harley-Davidson has proactively decided to take action to address those concerns. The iconic motorcycle brand not only launched an all-electric bike in 2019, but it also has plans to make LiveWire into its own publicly-traded spinoff company this year.
It’s a bold move that will likely have plenty of impact on the industry. Let’s take a closer at Harley-Davidson’s EV lineup, its merger with a new partner, and what it could mean for motorcycles moving forward.
Harley-Davidson’s EV lineup
Harley-Davidson made the news when it unveiled its first fully-electric motorcycle in 2019 under the all-new LiveWire brand. Its styling and performance earned raves, but its asking price of $29,799 was a big drawback for many.
In 2021, the bike was renamed the LiveWire One and released with new badging. The price was also lowered from its original starting MSRP to $21,999. With federal tax credits for electric motorcycles at around $2,500, the total cost is below $20,000, which will appeal to many prospective owners.
The LiveWire One also has the city range of the original at 146 miles and appears to be using the same 15.5 kWh battery pack. It offers DC fast charging to charge up from 0% to 100% in 60 minutes and can get to 80% in just 45 minutes. It also appears to have the same electric motor with a power output of 105 horsepower. It’s electronically limited to a maximum speed of 110 mph and is said to be able to have a 0 to 60 mph speed of just 3.1 seconds.
A partner to produce future EVs
In December, Harley-Davidson announced that it had formed a merger with Taiwanese manufacturer KYMCO. The merger will allow it to greatly expand its EV lineup. The company has plans to expand the product lineup beyond the one offering it has now, according to Electrek. While One will be the flagship bike in its EV lineup, the premium model, three more product levels are coming soon.
Just below the One will be the S2 and, according to Motorius, it will have middleweight applications. Next is the S3, a lightweight model with a scaled-down version of the innovative Arrow powertrain. Lastly, the S4 will offer heavyweight bikes to complete the lineup.
Arrow will be featured on LiveWire bikes. It’s a new, modular powertrain system that’s also scalable. The next-generation propulsion system offers many great benefits. It uses fewer microprocessors, expanded battery power density, optimized cooling configurations, and housing for the motor incorporated into the bike’s chassis to enhance rigidity.
The next LiveWire bike might arrive as early as 2023. The S2 Del Mar will be a middleweight bike from what we know so far. With Del Mar translating to “of the sea” in Spanish, we’ll see what influence that has on the design.
The future of the LiveWire brand
KYMCO has invested $100 million in Harley-Davidson’s sub-brand LiveWire according to Team-BHP. That matches the $100 million that Harley-Davidson itself invested in the venture. The contributions will boost LiveWire by expanding its engineering expertise, manufacturing footprint, supply chain network, and distribution.
Once completed, KYMCO’s investment will give it a 4% share in the venture. With a post-money valuation of just over $2.3 billion, Harley-Davidson will take LiveWire public, making it the first U.S. publicly traded electric motorcycle company.
The partnership with KYMCO has the added benefit of helping LiveWire enter several Eurasian markets. KYMCO already sells numerous electric bikes in such markets. Those could be modified, rebranded, and sold under the LiveWire mantel.