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Business, Energy, STEM

Project LiveWire: A Birthday Weekend Adventure

Project LiveWire Prototype Electric Motorcycle (Source: Harley-Davidson)

Project LiveWire Prototype Electric Motorcycle (Source: Harley-Davidson)

Today is my birthday. I am thankful to be able to count another notch on the ladder of life. There are no special plans for today, however, I have decided to make Project LiveWire my birthday weekend adventure.

In a recent press release with marketing and advertising buzz to match, Harley-Davidson announced the newest edition to its iconic brand: Project LiveWire – the first Harley-Davidson electric motorcycle. A 2014 U.S. tour – kicking off with a journey down Route 66 – is planned with visits to more than 30 Harley-Davidson dealerships now through the end of the year. I need to confirm when the tour will be coming thru Arizona.

Like all Harley-Davidson motorcycles, the new bike is styled to look good with a rider on it. Personally, I think it looks pretty good all by itself! Out with the internal combustion engine for this model, and in with a longitudinally mounted electric motor.

The company launched its newest project about a week ago, however, the bikes are not for sale. This product is in test market to help the company gain insights into customers’ expectations of an electric motorcycle. According to one of the folks in the corporate offices, “We’re developing this motorcycle the Harley-Davidson way by bringing this innovation to the street to gain feedback from customers.” Customers are invited to ride, react and shape the future of the new bike. The Project LiveWire Experience will continue in the U.S. and expand into Canada and Europe in 2015.

If you don’t have a valid license to operate a motorcycle, or are a bit edgy about taking a test ride on the new bike, you can experience the ride via Jumpstart Demo, a simulated riding experience.

Why an electric motorcycle? Perhaps for a number of reasons… The U.S. and most foreign vehicle manufacturers have made electric cars and/or hybrid vehicles available to customers for at least five years…some have been offering models for 10-years or more. Electric vehicle technology is evolving rapidly, and so is that of natural gas.

Eco-friendly consumers who are concerned about their carbon footprint may be attracted to an electric motorcycle, as well as those who are not happy with the rising price of gasoline that has been tied to instability of oil producing countries in the Middle-east, Africa, or South America. The average cost of a gallon of gasoline in the U.S. today is $3.687, according to GasBuddy.com. Last year, that same gallon cost $3.531.

Image of Project LiveWire Motorcycle (Source: Harley-Davidson)

Image of Project LiveWire Motorcycle (Source: Harley-Davidson)

Some neat features of the new bike include LED headlights and a touchscreen in place of a normal instrument cluster. There is no transmission or clutch between the engine and the belt drive, therefore there is no need to pause to shift gears. The exposed, one-piece aluminum frame weighs 14 pounds. The cast-aluminum wheels are also new. The entire motorcycle weighs just 460 pounds. Lithium-ion batteries offer a riding range of about 53 miles per charge for this prototype, and are mounted snugly within the frame and under the seat. [Ref 1]

Aside from the electric motor, another obvious difference in this new generation motorcycle is the sound. That classic Harley-Davidson chopper sound that comes from a gasoline internal combustion engine will be replaced by a fighter jet on an aircraft carrier sound. Harley-Davidson is an 111 year-old company. Recognizing changing demographics in their customer base and preferences, the company says, “We think in generational terms about our great riding environments for the next 111 years.”

To learn more about Project LiveWire, and specifics stops and locations along the way, go to http://www.projectlivewire.com.

1. Harley-Davidson Unveils Project LiveWire Electric Motorcycle, by Jake Holmes for Automobile Magazine, Jun 20, 2014, http://www.automobilemag.com/features/news/1406-harley-davidson-unveils-project-livewire-electric-motorcycle/#ixzz35tQ83ArP, last viewed on 06.27.2014



About Vi Brown

Vi is principal and CEO of Prophecy Consulting Group, LLC, an Arizona firm that provides business and engineering services to private and public clients. Prior to establishing her consulting practice in 2001, Vi worked with Motorola, Maricopa County Government, Pacific Gas & Electric, CH2M Hill, and Procter & Gamble. As an adjunct faculty member, Vi teaches undergraduate calculus classes and graduate level environmental courses. She is also a professional speaker.


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