A game-changing electric vehicle is set to take off in 2020 — and it’s not from Tesla

LiveWire — a whole new breed of Hog.

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LiveWire — a whole new breed of Hog.
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Reuters

The much-anticipated Harley-Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycle officially launched in late 2019.

The price – $30,000 – is steep, but the potential is enormous.

Here’s a rundown of why LiveWire could be this biggest electric-vehicle story of 2020:


The LiveWire is … live! Harley-Davidson announced the motorcycle in 2014, then launched it in 2019, when deliveries commenced late in the year.

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Harley-Davidson

LiveWire was the star of the New York Motorcycle Show in December, and the centerpiece of the Harley booth.

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Matthew DeBord/BI

Here’s what LiveWire isn’t: A Tesla. Elon Musk’s carmaker has dominated electric-vehicle news for a decade.

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Tesla

But Musk, a one-time biker in his youth, doesn’t want to do a Teslacycle. He had some close calls when he was a teen.

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REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

Another thing the LiveWire isn’t: A throwback to Harley’s chopper era.

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Getty Images

The LiveWire also isn’t an Evel Knievel wheelie-popper.

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Getty Images

The LiveWire is the biggest electric motorcycle of all time. It has a range of 146 miles, an 85-horsepower motor, a 15.5 kilowatt-hour battery, and can be recharged either overnight on Level 2 or in about an hour on DC fast-charging.

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Electrify America

LiveWire is a strong effort to bring American leadership to electrifying the two-wheeled world.

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Reuters/Jim Young

Harley CEO Matt Levatich has made the LiveWire a cornerstone of the iconic company’s 21st-century strategy.

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Thomson Reuters

Harley needs a new strategy, as the company stock endured a 40% slide over the past five years. Harley’s customer base is aging, and new riders have been hard to find.

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Markets Insider

Harley legendary V-Twin motor is not a factor on LiveWire.

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Harley-Davidson

But the bike is still built with pride in the USA.

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Scott Olson/Getty Images)

This ought to placate President Donald Trump, who has criticized Harley for moving some production to new markets that its want to open up, especially in Asia.

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Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The brand has incredible potential in Asia; here’s a band of Chinese riders hitting the road.

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REUTERS/Carlos Barria

LiveWire looks … impressive. And it’s priced accordingly, starting at about $30,000.

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Harley-Davidson

But the bike is still something special and has a bright future.

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Electrify America

I’ve rarely been as excited as I am about the LiveWire, which despite the naysayers marks a HUGE departure for Harley in the US, charts a brave new future for the brand at home, and suggests some interesting strategies for the rest of the world.

But more to the point, I want an electric motorcycle, perhaps foolishly, and the electric motorcycle I want is a Harley-Davidson LiveWire. This fact was brought home to me the moment I threw a leg at this year’s New York Motorcycle Show. It was like the insistent thrum of a V-Twin: want, want, want, want …

Except that it was my two-wheelin’ heart, a beatin’ a seduced rhythm.

I was already prepared to have my game changed by LiveWire, but I think that it should generate if not massive sales in 2020 then certainly buzz around electric motorcycles. Here’s what could happen.

A bunch of guys are out on a weekend ride on their beloved hogs. They stop for a break. There’s a LiveWire in the picture. Before you know it, one LiveWire adopter has become a brand ambassador for a dozen grizzled dudes in denim and black leather.

It’s gonna be a slow build, in other words. But given the exceptionally underwhelming condition of the electric bike market now, a slow build is preferable to the alternative, which is no build.

But the endgame, versus the game-change, to me looks promising. Harley has committed, and when you’re as big as the Milwaukee legend, that matters.