Last month, Harley-Davidson announced it was launching LiveWire as a separate brand dedicated to electric motorcycles, with the first LiveWire-branded model to be revealed July 8. Now that we’re about halfway there, we thought we’d take a look at recent developments from the LiveWire brand, and what we can expect at next month’s launch.
Discuss this story more at our H-D LiveWire Forum
First, a recap on what Harley-Davidson says LiveWire, the brand, will be. In Jochen Zeitz, chief executive officer of Harley-Davidson’s own words: “by launching LiveWire as an all-electric brand, we are seizing the opportunity to lead and define the market in EV. With the mission to be the most desirable electric motorcycle brand in the world, LiveWire will pioneer the future of motorcycling, for the pursuit of urban adventure and beyond. LiveWire also plans to innovate and develop technology that will be applicable to Harley-Davidson electric motorcycles in the future.”
LiveWire will operate primarily out of two different hubs, in Harley’s home base of Milwaukee, Wisc., and in Silicon Valley, Calif., at a center called “LiveWire Labs.” The new brand will work with participating dealers from Harley-Davidson’s extensive dealer network, but will also open its own dedicated EV showrooms.
Motorcycle.com can now confirm that the first of these LiveWire-owned showrooms will be at Canoga Park in Los Angeles, Calif. Over the last couple of weeks, Harley-Davidson posted several job listings for the Canoga Park location, including for a dealership general manager, sales consultant, maintenance technician, finance lead and office manager. Clearly, H-D intends to get this new dealership set up for next month’s launch. Harley-Davidson also recently posted several EV-related software and engineering jobs for both of its hubs.
So, what can we expect from next month’s launch? All Harley-Davidson has confirmed so far is that the “first LiveWire branded motorcycle” will be announced July 8. The bike’s first public appearance was supposed to take place the next day at the International Motorcycle Show in Irvine, Calif. The Progressive IMS has since been forced to reschedule that event as the original venue was no longer available. Harley-Davidson hasn’t said anything official, but we expect the July 8 announcement is proceeding as planned, with the public debut likely taking place at the next IMS event, July 16-18 at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.
Assuming the July 8 event will take place, it’s still unclear what will be revealed. The simplest guess is the that the first LiveWire-branded motorcycle is… the LiveWire. Technically, Harley-Davidson hasn’t officially announced the 2021 LiveWire (we’ll call it by its model code “ELW” from here on to avoid confusion), though it has shown photos of the ELW with the sub-brand’s new logo. On the company’s press site, however, the ELW is still shown with last year’s colors and Harley-Davidson branding. It stands to reason that LiveWire will reveal the 2021 ELW with more color options next month.
If that was it, however, it would be pretty underwhelming. More interesting would be if Harley finally put one of its electric concept models into production.
The most intriguing of these concepts is a “middleweight” electric model that would present a more affordable option than the $30k ELW. Harley-Davidson had previously shown two sketches of this model. The first is on the left in the composite above, and the second is shown below.
In this later sketch, the model is labeled “EDT600R”, which likely stands for “Electric Dirt Tracker.” The EDT600R once held a prominent place on the future models section of Harley-Davidson’s website, but as we were first to notice, the sketch was quietly removed at some point late last year.
Could the EDT600R be the first LiveWire-branded model? If it is, we suspect it won’t have the same flat tracker styling as the sketches depict. Styling its first bike with design cues from the company’s flat track history would be a step backward if Harley-Davidson is intent on establishing LiveWire as its own brand. As we pointed out with the new logo, LiveWire looks to be setting its own path in the industry. A redesigned model with the same bones may be more likely.
A second candidate is the dirt bike-inspired lightweight concept, one of two Harley-Davidson debuted at the X Games in 2019. Harley-Davidson has made little mention of the concept since then, but we can confirm that development continued, with a couple of patent applications filed in 2020. One patent was for the swingarm concentric electric motor and another for maintaining a balance between drive torque and regenerative braking.
With it’s large, skinny wheels and lightweight frame, the concept looks more like a bicycle but its throttle grip and fixed pegs technically makes it a motorcycle and a candidate to be the focus of next month’s launch.
A third candidate, and one we believe is most likely to come next month, is the other concept Harley-Davidson showed at X Games. With more of a scooter form factor, one can debate whether this still counts as a motorcycle, but it does suit LiveWire’s stated focus of the urban market.
We can also confirm that development on this electric scooter progressed to the point that Harley-Davidson registered the designs for what appears to be a production-ready model.
Discuss this story more at our Electric Motorcycle Forum
We’ll know for sure what Harley-Davidson has planned for the LiveWire brand on July 8. Until then, we’ll keep an eye out for any further developments.
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