It has been a year since Harley-Davidson debuted the prototype for its LiveWire battery-powered motorcycle, but it could be much longer before the iconic company’s new e-bike hits the market.
The release of the LiveWire, which is far lighter and quieter than a traditional Harley (HOG), shouldn’t be expected “in the next couple of years but it’s not past 2020 either, unless we run into some impossible barrier,” Harley CEO Matt Levatich told The Wall Street Journal.
Levatich, who had not previously put a time frame on the LiveWire’s release, added that the company is working to increase the bike’s current range between battery recharges from its current point of 50 miles to at least 100 miles.
Harley is betting its dominant U.S. market share in traditional motorcycles and the company’s marketing clout mean it can afford to give others a head start.
Mr. Levatich said Harley would await improvements in battery technology so the LiveWire can have the performance he believes buyers expect. “Will we get to that Nirvana that customers say they want? Probably not,” he said. “Will we get close enough? I believe we will.”
The LiveWire, which features a digital display between its handlebars to indicate speed and serve other functions, is part of Harley’s push to attract younger customers beyond the company’s traditional baby boomer market. The company already has plenty of competition in the electric motorcycle market, including Zero Motorcycles as well as Polaris Industries (PII), which plans to release an electric bike later this year.
And, while customers cannot yet buy the LiveWire, they can check it out in action on the big screen. The latest Marvel blockbuster, Avengers: Age of Ultron, features a prototype version of the electric bike driven by actress Scarlett Johanssen’s character Black Widow.