When Bob Dylan dropped his acoustic in the 1960s and switched to an electric guitar the stodgy world of folk music lost its collective mind. Now, another native son of the Midwest is making a similar shift. Harley-Davidson a brand best known for rumbling V-twin engines and loud chrome pipes is announcing its first electric motorcycle with the Project Livewire.

Harley is showing all sorts of photo and video of its EV bike, and the project appears fairly far along. Although, it's not quite ready for dealers yet partially because H-D wants to get customers' reaction to this big shift first. The company is taking the Livewire on a cross-country tour through 30 dealers along Route 66 starting next week, and some people actually get the chance to get on and ride this experimental hog. In 2015, the program goes international with stops in Canada and Europe.

The Livewire has the cues of a naked sport bike with an exposed trellis frame and dual-sided rear swing arm suspension, but the engine is something very non-Harley, though. There's no big V-twin here, instead the electric motor appears partially exposed in a polished case underneath.

Harley is keeping technical details a tightly kept secret for the moment. It promises "tire-shredding acceleration and an unmistakable new sound" in its press release but doesn't back it up with any hard figures. From the teaser video, it definitely has the high-pitched whine associated with electric motors. Development appears to be moving ahead nicely, though. The stunt double for Scarlet Johansson's Black Widow was caught riding the Livewire during shooting for The Avengers: Age of Ultron. To learn more about Harley's move into the electric bike world, scroll down to watch two teaser videos and read the full release.

Show full PR text

H-D Invites Consumers to Ride, React and Shape the Future of this New Bike

NEW YORK (June 19, 2014) – Innovation, meet heritage. Today, Harley-Davidson (NYSE:HOG) reveals Project LiveWire – the first Harley-Davidson® electric motorcycle.

In keeping with the company's customer-led product development approach, starting next week select consumers across the country will be able to ride and provide feedback on the bike, helping to shape the future of Harley-Davidson's first-ever electric motorcycle.

While not for sale, Project LiveWire is specifically designed for the purpose of getting insight into rider expectations of an electric Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

"America at its best has always been about reinvention," said Matt Levatich, President and Chief Operating Officer, Harley-Davidson Motor Company. "And, like America, Harley-Davidson has reinvented itself many times in our history, with customers leading us every step of the way. Project LiveWire is another exciting, customer-led moment in our history."
Spurred by this heritage, the Project LiveWire Experience invites customers to test ride, provide feedback and learn more about the story of the motorcycle. Even those who don't yet ride will have the opportunity to feel the power of Project LiveWire through Jumpstart – a simulated riding experience.

A 2014 U.S. tour – kicking off with a journey down Route 66 – will visit more than 30 Harley-Davidson dealerships now through the end of the year. In 2015, the Project LiveWire Experience will continue in the U.S. and expand into Canada and Europe.

"This builds on many recent reinvention successes for Harley-Davidson." said Levatich. "In just the last few years, we've broadened our reach to serve an increasingly diverse society, as well as reinvented our approach to product development and manufacturing. This has resulted in cutting-edge products like the recently launched Project Rushmore touring bikes, Harley-Davidson Street 500 and 750 models and this reveal of Project LiveWire."

An Innovative Approach to Advance the Possibilities of Personal Freedom
This exciting new ride blends the company's styling heritage with the latest technology to deliver a new expression of the signature Harley-Davidson look, sound and feel.

"Project LiveWire is more like the first electric guitar – not an electric car," said Mark-Hans Richer, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Harley-Davidson Motor Company. "It's an expression of individuality and iconic style that just happens to be electric. Project LiveWire is a bold statement for us as a company and a brand."

The bike offers a visceral riding experience with tire-shredding acceleration and an unmistakable new sound.

"The sound is a distinct part of the thrill," said Richer. "Think fighter jet on an aircraft carrier. Project LiveWire's unique sound was designed to differentiate it from internal combustion and other electric motorcycles on the market."

Longer term plans for retail availability of Project LiveWire will be influenced by feedback from riders along the Project Livewire Experience tour.

"We offer a no excuses riding experience in everything we do and we are led by what our customers tell us matters most," said Richer. "Because electric vehicle technology is evolving rapidly, we are excited to learn more from riders through the Project LiveWire Experience to fully understand the definition of success in this market as the technology continues to evolve."

Helping Preserve and Renew the Freedom to Ride for Generations
As riding in the great outdoors is one of the best elements of motorcycling, sustainability remains a core strategic focus at Harley-Davidson.

"Preserving the riding environment is important to all of us," said Levatich. "Project LiveWire is just one element in our efforts to preserve and renew the freedom to ride for generations to come. As a company that has seen success for 111 years, we think in generational terms about our great riding environments for the next 111 years."

Fans can learn more about Project LiveWire, as well as specific dates and locations for Project LiveWire Experience stops at projectlivewire.com. Harley-Davidson also invites anyone who is interested in the possibilities of the future to follow and engage with the company on its social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Harley-Davidson Motor Company produces heavyweight custom, cruiser and touring motorcycles and offers a complete line of Harley-Davidson motorcycle parts, accessories, riding gear and apparel, and general merchandise. For more information, visit Harley-Davidson's website at www.h-d.com.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Months Ago
      Won't attract very many old school harley riders, but that's not the point - i'm sure they want to expand the market. However, it still needs 100+ mile range, and to be ~$20k or less to be successful. The zero SR already does 150+ miles and is ~$20k, although HD definitely has the name brand and resources to compete (getting a featured spot in avengers can only help).
      • 6 Months Ago
      Hardly-Ableson stepping into the future? Let me check for flying pigs... In all seriousness, this is the LAST thing I would expect out of HD. I wish them the best of success and look forward to seeing this in the streets whenever it comes out. Kudos.
      Sean Victorine
      • 6 Months Ago
      Gotta love people's comments on here. Harely Davidson is criticized for not being a modern company. So now they make an electric motorcycle... AND BIG SURPRISE, they're still being criticized.
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Sean Victorine
        Well, the core demographic of "fat and tassles" won't like it, but this is the only way to sell to people under 65.
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Sean Victorine
        I suspect it's different people doing the criticizing in one case versus the other.
      • 6 Months Ago
      Holy scheit! A crisply designed, modern, naked sport bike from Harley! That's more surprising than the electric motor.
      • 6 Months Ago
      Electric power supply makes perfect sense for most bike riders. There will always be folks who want their v-twin thunder, but Harley stands to capture a significant market segment with this product while improving EPA overall.
      • 6 Months Ago
      I like it. HD could use a little more honest diversity in their line up (chrome doesn't count). I'm interested to see what come of this. And most importantly, will it still find a way to leak/burn oil?
      • 6 Months Ago
      They're starting with a 10kW battery, so range won't be higher than Brammo or Zero, which could be a mistake. But it's a prototype so hopefully they can reconfigure with more battery/range. They've leaked both 53 mile range and 130 mile range, so clearly they're quoting range without speed qualifiers and confusing these journos.
      • 6 Months Ago
      I think the concept is awesome and this thing sounds like the bike Batman drove in Dark Knight so it gets extra cool points. I don't see it really appealing to the typical Harley demographic but if they can attract new clients it's a win.
      • 6 Months Ago
      Electrifying design!
      • 6 Months Ago
      Looks nice. Makes sense for HD to get into the EV bike market. EV bikes make much more sense to me as bikes tend to be ridden over shorter distances and have much shorter charge times.
      • 6 Months Ago
      Not sure how well it will be received by the die hards, but I think it looks awesome. Time will tell.
      Lawrence Robey
      • 6 Months Ago
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