Harley-Davidson LiveWire gets its first shock: Charging system glitch forces production halt

First-ever electric motorcycle by Harley-Davidson, LiveWire was found to have a glitch in its charging system and hence its production has been stopped. Customers have been asked to charge their LiveWire at ChargePoints only.

By: | Updated: October 15, 2019 5:19 PM

harley davidson livewire electric motorcycle

Harley-Davidson motorcycle sales have been on the decline for some years now with the American motorcycle manufacturer registering its steepest sales decline in four years in the United States in 2018 with a forecast that indicates to number falling again this year. To revive its sales in its home country, Harley rolled out its first all-electric motorcycle LiveWire that would appeal to young, environment-conscious riders. But so far, the LiveWire has not been able to drum up much business and now, owing to a technical glitch with the charging mechanism, H-D has stopped its production and sales.

Moreover, Harley has said that the customers who already purchased a LiveWire can ride them around but must only charge them on ChargePoint charging stations at authorised Harley dealerships. H-D has said that customers should not attempt to charge their LiveWire on their own at home.

With the LiveWire, Harley became the first mainstream motorcycle manufacturer to introduce an all-electric motorcycle. However, a major reason behind small sales numbers is that it is rather pricey at $30,000 (approximately Rs 21.46 lakh), some $5,000 short of the price tag on an entry-level Tesla electric car.

Besides the price constraint, the US has other players that have been retailing electric motorcycles with larger range between charges. California-based Zero Motorcycles is already selling electric bikes in the United States with retail prices ranging from $8,500 to $21,000. Its top-end bike - SR/F - is similar to LiveWire, but costs nearly $9,000 less and has a range of 256 km (city) compared to LiveWire's 235 km (city).

A glitch like this is not something one wants in a $30,000 purchase.

Harley have said that tests to pinpoint the issue are progressing well, but have not yet clarified when will production resume.

Furthermore, new buyers in the US are preferring to buy a used Harley motorcycle since those owned by enthusiasts tend to be well maintained. While the sales of used Harley motorcycles grew by 13% last year, new unit sales were down by half from a 2006 peak in the US.

Also read: Harley-Davidson’s good reliability has now become a problem! Here’s how

Speaking of ICE (internal combustion engine) motorcycles, Harley-Davidson has big plans in the developing markets like India, China, Brazil, etc which should help it compete in the segments below middle-weight cruisers as well. Earlier this year, Harley announced a partnership with Chinese manufacturer Qianjang Motorcycle and that the two will jointly develop a 338cc motorcycle which will be the most affordable Harley to go on sale. The new roadster style motorcycle will be manufactured in China and exported to other markets.

Harley-Davidson's new 338cc is expected to be first launched in China by the end of 2020 followed by its launch in other Asian markets. India debut of the most affordable Harley is likely to take place sometime in the year 2021.

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