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Iconic Motorcycle Brand Harley Davidson Debuts its ‘LiveWire' Electric Bike

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【Summary】American motorcycle manufacturer Harley Davidson debuted the production version of its electric motorcycle at the EICMA motorcycle show Milan, Italy on Tuesday.

FutureCar Staff    Nov 06, 2018 5:52 PM PT
Iconic Motorcycle Brand Harley Davidson Debuts its ‘LiveWire' Electric Bike
author: FutureCar Staff    

American motorcycle manufacturer Harley Davidson debuted the production version of its electric motorcycle at the EICMA motorcycle show Milan, Italy on Tuesday.

The new battery-powered bike is called the LiveWire, and is the first electric bike from the iconic 115-year-old brand based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The LiveWire has been in development since 2014, and the public finally got to see how the finished version might look.

Few performance specs were revealed, however Harley did say that there will be no clutching or shifting required to operate the bike. Since the bike will have an electric motor without the unmistakable Harley sound, the company engineered the bike to produce a tone that increases in pitch and volume with speed.

The LiveWire can be charged from a standard household electric outlet, with a power cord that stores below the seat, according to Harley.

The company said that all Harley Davidson dealerships that sell the bike will offer a public charging station with a fast-charging system.

The LiveWire includes a TFT, or thin film transistor liquid crystal color touch screen above the handlebar. The screen is tilt-adjustable for the best viewing angle. The instrument screen also allows access to a navigation system, music and other features.

A small, 12-volt lithium-ion battery powers the controls, instrument display, lights and horn. The bike's suspension has seven distinct riding modes to choose from, including four factory presets and three that a rider can customize, such as different combinations of throttle response and traction control.

The electric bike will be fast. The LiveWire prototype showed that it could go from zero to 60 mph in less than four seconds. And, earlier, Harley said it wouldn't bring an electric motorcycle to market until the battery technology improved to allow for longer driving distances.

Harley Davidson turned to the power of social media to promote its first electric bike. In 2014, the first LiveWire prototype garnered hundreds of millions of social media impressions. The company offered ten minute test rides to the public and interviewed on video to record their first impressions. After having their picture taken by a Harley photographer, riders received an access code for downloading the picture and posting it on Facebook or Twitter.

LiveWire comes as Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson says it plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to stimulate growth through new motorcycles in the next four years, including smaller bikes built through an alliance with an Asian manufacturer.

The company is looking recover from dwindling sales and competition from other motorcycle manufacturers such as Ducati. Harley's stock has lost roughly 45 percent of its value in the past four years.

In addition to the LiveWire, Harley is introducing new midsize bikes, including the company's first adventure touring model capable of off-highway use.

Through its new plan, called More Roads to Harley-Davidson, the company says it expects to spend between $675 million and $825 million as it looks to generate more than $1 billion in additional annual revenue in 2022.

Harley says it will fund its plans, expected to benefit the company for years, by cutting costs and reallocating previously planned investments.

Some of the cost savings will come from the closing of the company's manufacturing plant in Kansas City, Missouri, in mid-2019 and moving the work to the company's plant in York, Pennsylvania. The company is also opening an assembly plant in Thailand.

Harley Davidson says that sales of the LiveWire will begin in 2019, with pre-orders starting in January.

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