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After Finding a Glitch, Harley-Davidson Pulls the Plug on its First Electric Motorcycle

The Milwaukee-based manufacturer has told riders not to charge the LiveWire at home.

Harley-Davidson's LiveWire electric motorcycle. Courtesy of Harley-Davidson.

We were utterly buzzing when Harley-Davidson unveiled its first electric motorcycle earlier this year in Las Vegas—but all that positive energy may have been a touch premature. On Monday, the 116-year-old nameplate halted production and delivery of its first-ever zero-emission hog after discovering a glitch related to the charging equipment.

The 2020 LiveWire—which initially surfaced as a prototype back in 2014—went into production at the start of 2019, with bikes officially rolling out to dealers last month. According to a memo sent last week and viewed by The Wall Street Journal, the Milwaukee-based manufacturer said the bikes are still safe to ride but asked customers and dealers to only use a professional type of charger available at dealerships, rather than standard wall outlets at home. When charging the LiveWire at home, it takes approximately 10 hours while the dealerships can reload the battery in just one hour.

Harley-Davidson's LiveWire electric motorcycle.

The bike is touted to go from zero to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds.  Courtesy of Harley-Davidson.

“We recently discovered a non-standard condition during a final quality check; stopped production and deliveries; and began additional testing and analysis, which is progressing well,” Harley-Davidson said in a statement.

“We are in close contact with our LiveWire dealers and customers and have assured them they can continue to ride LiveWire motorcycles. As usual, we’re keeping high quality as our top priority.”

Harley has not given any more information on this “non-standard condition,” though the hiccup couldn’t have come at a worse time. The 105 horsepower LiveWire—which is priced at $29,799— is central to Harley-Davidson’s plan to combat slowing sales and plummeting stock value by appealing to a new wave of environmentally conscious riders through the More Roads to Harley-Davidson initiative. While we’ve also seen three new electric bicycles, a scooter concept and an electric dirt bike, the LiveWire is the first of the EV family to make it to production, so the stakes are high. (We don’t a repeat of the Audi E-Tron, after all.)

To make matters worse, some dealers believe that the LiveWire’s high asking price may see it lose the race against its lower-priced competitors.

Harley-Davidson has not yet specified when production and sales might resume, but fingers crossed it’s all smooth sailing (or riding) from here.

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