Harley’s Live Wire Electric Motorcycle Brand – Everything You Need To Know

Harley’s Live Wire Electric Motorcycle Brand – Everything You Need To Know

Harley-Davidson was the first (and probably most improbable) major heritage motorcycle manufacturer to introduce a full-size, full-power electric motorbike to the market, and it is still doing so as of this writing. They do, however, face stiff competition from Zero Motors, which started as a clean-sheet electric motorcycle manufacturer over 15 years ago and now produces a wide range of well-respected electric motorcycles, all of which are less expensive than the LiveWire model, which is now known as the LiveWire One under the LiveWire brand.

While the decision to go public with LiveWire via a SPAC is shocking, the inclusion of Taiwanese scooter manufacturer KYMCO in the transaction is even more so – yet it makes sense. While KYMCO is relatively obscure in the United States, it is a global powerhouse that has sold hundreds of thousands of machines – many of them highly complex – across Europe and Asia. With a simple rebranding of KYMCO vehicles as LiveWire machines, LiveWire (and by implication, Harley-Davidson) may get easier access to Eurasian markets, while also gaining access to KYMCO’s huge R&D and manufacturing capacity for future products – notably all-electric bikes.

History of the Live Wire Electric

Live wire electric
Live wire electric


In June of 2014, LiveWire was initially shown to the press. Later in 2014, prototypes were available for public test rides at Harley-Davidson dealerships in the United States, followed by Europe and Canada in 2015. The powertrains for the prototypes were created in partnership with the makers of the “Mission R” electric superbike, Mission Motors, an electric motorbike, and electric powertrain technology business.

The engine was supposed to be installed longitudinally, beneath the frame, as the prototype showed in 2014. A bevel gear was designed to change the direction of rotation by 90 degrees in order to turn the rear wheel with a gilmer belt. The bevel gear provided the motor a peculiar whirling sound in the prototypes, similar to that of a jet turbine or, as one reporter for The Verge put it, “like an enlarged vacuum.” Mission Motors supplied technical support on the motor controller, according to Wired magazine in 2014.

Harley-Davidson revealed in January 2018 that the motorbike was going into production and will be available in 18 months. Preorders were set to begin in January 2019. The first deliveries began in September 2019 but were temporarily halted due to an unspecified charging issue that Harley-Davidson was able to resolve by October 2019.

Harley-Davidson In March 2020, Swiss rider Michel von Tell set an unofficial electric motorbike distance-ridden-in-24-hours record, reaching 1,723 km on a LiveWire (1,071 mi). Von Tell started his journey in Zürich, Switzerland, and rode to Stuttgart, Germany, before continuing around Lake Constance to Ruggell, Liechtenstein, in a total duration of 23 hours and 48 minutes. In 2018, an electric Zero S set the previous record of 1,317 kilometers (818.27 miles).

Long Way Up, a streaming video series that followed Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman as they rode LiveWires from South America to North America, premiered in 2020. Over the course of 100 days, they traveled 13,000 miles via 13 countries.

Harley-Davidson announced in December 2021 that it will spin out its LiveWire subsidiary as a new company named LiveWire, which would go public in the first half of 2022 as a $1.77 billion special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

Live Wire Electric

Electric scooters are now prevalent in many places throughout the globe, and their popularity is rising. While breaking through with a full-size electric motorbike is a difficult job owing to motorcycle consumers’ far higher expectations, developing decent scooters – particularly electric variants – is a lot lower-hanging fruit. Prices are far cheaper, and purchasers are not anticipating supercar-level performance. They mostly want machines that are dependable, economical, and practical for carrying passengers around big cities, where electrical charging infrastructure – or battery swapping technology – is already substantially in place. With LiveWire’s branding essentially separated from Harley- Davidson’s, the Motor Company could be a player in a massive, global electric motorcycle and scooter market far beyond what they could have hoped for in terms of their large, gas-powered legacy machines, which will continue to be popular in the United States.

The possibility of Harley-Davidson spinning off LiveWire inspired speculation that they would do the same with the Pan America bikes, although they may cling to the mothership a little more securely than the LiveWire and Serial 1 platforms. Harley-Davidson stock rose dramatically in response to the LiveWire revelation but has subsequently lost most of its gains. The company’s new electric motorbike brand, LiveWire, will go public with a SPAC transaction in the near future, in an unusual but not entirely unexpected step in the drive to bring the once-dominant American motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson back on track.

A press release stated that LiveWire, which was recently spun off by Harley-Davidson as its own brand, will partner with sustainability-focused special purpose acquisition company AEA-Bridges Impact Corporation (aka ABIC) for the listing as LVW on the New York Stock Exchange. No specific date for a public offering was listed, and the deal is subject to the SPAC company shareholders’ approval. ABIC is traded on the NYSE under the ticker name IMPX.

KYMCO, a Taiwanese company, is also a part of the arrangement. KYMCO manufactures and distributes a broad variety of scooters, light motorcycles, ATVs, and other motorized devices in nations all over the globe, including the United States, where they are best known for their scooters. The headquarters of KYMCO in the United States is located in South Carolina.

“ABIC’s $400 million cash held in trust, a $100 million investment from Harley-Davidson, and a $100 million investment from KYMCO, via a PIPE (private investment in public equity),” according to the news release. When the company goes public, “Harley-Davidson will control roughly 74 percent of the Company, ABIC’s stockholders will own approximately 17 percent, and ABIC’s founders and KYMCO will each possess around 4%.”

According to a press statement published Monday morning, the purchase could offer LiveWire a “enterprise value of approximately $1.77 billion and post-money equity value of approximately $2.3 billion at closure” if it goes through. During mid-day trading on Monday, Harley-Davidson had a market capitalization of $6 billion.

“Today’s news marks a watershed moment in the history of electric motorcycles in the United States, with LiveWire poised to become the first publicly listed EV motorbike firm in the country. LiveWire’s aim is to be the most attractive electric motorbike brand in the world, leading the electrification of the sport, by building on Harley-118-year Davidson’s legacy,” stated Harley-Davidson CEO Jochen Zeitz in a news statement. “LiveWire will be able to finance new product development and expedite its go-to-market approach as a result of this deal.” LiveWire will be able to operate as a lean, creative public business while taking use of Harley-Davidson and KYMCO’s large-scale production and distribution capabilities.”

Analysis of the Live Wire Electric

There has been a lot of attention paid to new CEO Jochen Zeitz, who served on Harley’s board of directors until becoming CEO in March 2020, just as the outbreak started. Harley-Davidson was struggling through successive quarters of declining profitability, sales decreases, and loss of market share. Some predicted the end of Harley-Davidson, or the loss of its independence in a possible sale, due to aging but dedicated central demographic, expensive products that were seen by many in the larger motorcycle community as high in quality but technologically outdated, and a general overall decline in the number of people seeming interested in motorcycles – of any brand or type.

The renowned motorcycle manufacturer ended up in the hands of recreational equipment producer AMF over 50 years ago when it almost went bankrupt until a last-ditch buyout by company founders. In 1986, the firm became public (HOG) after reinventing and refining essential aspects of its bikes. From then, continuing modernization efforts and product refinement propelled Harley-Davidson to one of the greatest comebacks in American commercial history, but recent years have not been kind to the company, despite the fact that H-D produces superb bikes that this author has evaluated.

Before joining Harley’s board, Zeitz, a German, had successfully pulled sports clothing giant Puma back from the verge of bankruptcy, and it was believed he could do the same in Milwaukee. When Zeitz took charge, he continued previous CEO Matt Levatich’s attempts to bring a contentious but timely new motorbike to market earlier this year, and the Pan America adventure bike has been a smashing success for the brand (disclosure: I am currently reviewing the Pan America for Forbes.com).

Another contentious move by Harley under Levatich was the introduction of the LiveWire all-electric motorbike in 2019. In late 2020, Harley-Davidson revealed that their newly announced electric bicycles will be split out as its own brand, Serial 1, named after the first motorbike Harley produced in 1903. This might be a prelude to the LiveWire idea.

Harley-Davidson was the first (and probably most improbable) major heritage motorcycle manufacturer to introduce a full-size, full-power electric motorbike to the market, and it is still doing so as of this writing. They do, however, face stiff competition from Zero Motors, which started as a clean-sheet electric motorcycle manufacturer over 15 years ago and now produces a wide range of well-respected electric motorcycles, all of which are less expensive than the LiveWire model, which is now known as the LiveWire One under the LiveWire brand.

While the decision to go public with LiveWire via a SPAC is shocking, the inclusion of Taiwanese scooter manufacturer KYMCO in the transaction is even more so – yet it makes sense. While KYMCO is relatively obscure in the United States, it is a global powerhouse that has sold hundreds of thousands of machines – many of them highly complex – across Europe and Asia. With a simple rebranding of KYMCO vehicles as LiveWire machines, LiveWire (and by implication, Harley-Davidson) may get easier access to Eurasian markets, while also gaining access to KYMCO’s huge R&D and manufacturing capacity for future products – notably all-electric bikes.

Electric scooters are now prevalent in many places throughout the globe, and their popularity is rising. While breaking through with a full-size electric motorbike is a difficult job owing to motorcycle consumers’ far higher expectations, developing decent scooters – particularly electric variants – is a lot lower-hanging fruit. Prices are far cheaper, and purchasers are not anticipating supercar-level performance. They mostly want machines that are dependable, economical, and practical for carrying passengers around big cities, where electrical charging infrastructure – or battery swapping technology – is already substantially in place. With LiveWire’s branding essentially separated from Harley- Davidson’s, the Motor Company could be a player in a massive, global electric motorcycle and scooter market far beyond what they could have hoped for in terms of their large, gas-powered legacy machines, which will continue to be popular in the United States.

The possibility of Harley-Davidson spinning off LiveWire inspired speculation that they would do the same with the Pan America bikes, although they may cling to the mothership a little more securely than the LiveWire and Serial 1 platforms. Harley-Davidson stock rose dramatically in response to the LiveWire revelation but has subsequently lost most of its gains.

Description of the Live Wire Electric

The following are the technical specifications:

  • New York, 2019: LiveWire test on Formula E circuit
  • Motor: longitudinal design, 105 horsepower (78 kW), 86 lbft (117 Nm) torque
  • 90-degree gearbox with belt-driven rear wheel power transmission
  • Liquid cooling system shared by the motor and controller
  • Battery: Samsung cells, 15.5 kWh (56 MJ) useable, 13.6 kWh (49 MJ) usable, 5-year guarantee, unlimited mileage.
  • Charging: Level 3 DC Fast Charging is supported, and a Level 1 charger is included and can be stowed beneath the seat.
  • Single disc, 2-piston front brake[citation required] [31] *17-inch front and rear wheels
  • In running order, 549 lbs[citation required]
  • Swingarm and frame are made of cast aluminum.
  • Headlights with LEDs
  • TFT-based dashboard
  • Trellis structure
  • single-speed transmission

Performance of The Live Wire

  • In 3.0 seconds, you can go from 0 to 60 mph (0–97 km/h).
  • 60–80 miles per hour (97–129 kilometers per hour) Added 1.9 seconds
  • 110 mph (180 km/h) top speed
  • 146-mile range (235 km)

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