Harley-Davidson suspends production of its first-ever electric motorcycle

Humza

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

Harley-Davidson started taking pre-orders for its first-ever electric bike earlier this year, and after finally shipping it to customers last month, it's now stopped production and deliveries due to a problem with the bike's charging equipment.

Although the company isn't issuing a recall and considers the LiveWire safe to ride, it has advised customers to only use ChargePoint charging stations available at its dealerships and avoid charging at home. An inconvenience nonetheless, after spending $30,000 on an electric bike.

"This is disappointing for all of us," said Michelle Kumbier, the company's chief operating officer. "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," noted the company, although it did not give a timeline as to when it will resume production.

The LiveWire is widely regarded as Harley-Davidson's bet to revive its declining business in the US and appeal to the next generation of younger riders, who are increasingly attracted to EVs and their positive impact on the environment.

Having to halt production due to charging problems with its first-ever electric bike doesn't bode well for the company, although it's not alone in facing electrification challenges considering that the Chinese EV startup NIO had to recall nearly 5,000 SUVs over the risk of battery fires in June this year.

The bike maker says it's in close contact with dealers and customers over the issue and has assured them that they can continue riding their LiveWires, adding that "as usual, we're keeping high quality as our top priority."

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IAMTHESTIG

TS Evangelist
"...appeal to the next generation of younger riders, who are increasingly attracted to EVs and their positive impact on the environment."

I LOL'd on that one pretty good... it's not completely true. Sure, they are better than ICEV's but they aren't a "positive impact on the environment" by themselves. The manufacturing of anything is in general bad for then environment.

I'm attracted to EV's for other reasons, like no more trips to the fuel station and keeping it charged up at home while its just sitting in your garage, considerably less maintenance requirements, not having to worry about changing fluids, belts, spark plugs, and various other mechanical parts and sensors, instant and consistent full power at any speed.

There's only a few negatives, limited range, slow charge times, battery pack will eventually have to be replaced which is a big cost. But those are small issues for your average city dweller who can afford to have a backup ICEV.
 

Adorerai

TS Enthusiast
What’s the long term impact of EVs, like say if we’ve transitioned to 90% EVs vs ICEs. How often would the battery pack need to be changed?
 

captaincranky

TechSpot Addict
@Humza Said "The LiveWire is widely regarded as Harley-Davidson's bet to revive its declining business in the US and appeal to the next generation of younger riders, who are increasingly attracted to EVs and their positive impact on the environment".

By this I'm assuming you meant, "the next generation of nail biting panty waists who are so afraid of being killed or injured driving cars, they want a computer to do it for them.

Somehow, I can't picture that "next generation", wanting any part of motorcycles, electric or otherwise.

Those things are dangerous. Don't mom & dad tell you that?

Although today's ghetto youth do seem to get a kick out of driving those nasty sounding two stroke dirt bikes and ATVs, mostly on their back wheels, weaving in and out of traffic, while being pursued by the police
 
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ShagnWagn

TS Evangelist
Can only be charged at the dealership? Oh my!

Given that most people want a louder than factory ICE by installing aftermarket pipes, I would think beyond the initial sales (to pansies/collectors) there won't be hardly any market. People also want to go on long distance trips with Harleys, so this is a huge downside. I can see crotch rockets being feasible for EVs, but again you don't have the sound. This market mostly cares about speed/acceleration though.
 
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lipe123

TS Evangelist
What’s the long term impact of EVs, like say if we’ve transitioned to 90% EVs vs ICEs. How often would the battery pack need to be changed?
There is a huge misconception that people think all Lithium Ion batteries are the same as the ones in cell phones that suck balls after 1-2 years. - They are not

There are actually LOTS of different Li-ion chemistry compositions that offer higher storage & faster charging, lower storage density & longer lasting on a sliding scale. For example even Tesla 3's with 100k Miles on them still do 90% of charge capacity.

So the answer is probably not fast at all, depends on how much use the battery sees but normally they are designed to do 5 years before any kind of replacement is needed. Also typically you will get some money back for the old battery or at least a discount on the new one.
 

Theinsanegamer

TS Evangelist
There is a huge misconception that people think all Lithium Ion batteries are the same as the ones in cell phones that suck balls after 1-2 years. - They are not

There are actually LOTS of different Li-ion chemistry compositions that offer higher storage & faster charging, lower storage density & longer lasting on a sliding scale. For example even Tesla 3's with 100k Miles on them still do 90% of charge capacity.

So the answer is probably not fast at all, depends on how much use the battery sees but normally they are designed to do 5 years before any kind of replacement is needed. Also typically you will get some money back for the old battery or at least a discount on the new one.
And yet, tesla is getting sued for battery degregation and failure to uphold their own warranty:
https://edchenlaw.com/news/tesla-hit-with-class-action-lawsuit

Nissan's leaf has serious battery degregation issues. Now, Nissan claims they have fixed this with the new generation, but the same company has claimed the same thing with their CVTs 3 or 4 times over the last decade, and three years later we go through the same cycle again.
https://insideevs.com/news/337439/nissan-issues-statement-on-leaf-30-kwh-battery-degradation/

Chevy claims up to 40% degragation of the battery may be oberved within 100K miles:
https://electrek.co/2016/12/07/gm-chevy-bolt-ev-battery-degradation-up-to-40-warranty/

Dont forget how winter temps slash your range almost in half:
https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/2018-nissan-leaf-long-term-final-update-may-2019/

And dont forget that, per the focus user manual, you are supposed to leave the car plugged in if under 32F or over 100F, to protect the battery:
http://www.fordservicecontent.com/Ford_Content/Catalog/owner_information/2017-Ford-Focus-Electric-Owners-Manual-version-1_EN-US_10_2016.pdf

There seems to be this concensus online that car batteries are completely different to cell phone batteries, that is WRONG. Car batteries are STILL lithium batteries, and as the leaf shows, when used like a cell phone, they will fail just as quickly. Tesla and ford only have good results because they use a liquid temperature management system, which comes with its own problems, and even then they are not immune to battery issues.

So the answer is probably not fast at all, depends on how much use the battery sees but normally they are designed to do 5 years before any kind of replacement is needed. Also typically you will get some money back for the old battery or at least a discount on the new one.
5 years? WOW. My 30 year old truck has the original fuel tanks, they still work perfectly. And given how much enviromental damage comes from mining the material to build electric batteries, the toxic byproducts from their acual production, ece 5 years is pathetically short.

Citation needed for getting "money back". Prius hybrid owners would liek to have a word with you on the price of new battery packs. Electric vehicles havent been around long in large numbers, and there is no set standard for buying back batteries or such. You will likely be left with an out of warranty bill in the thousands, if not tens of thousands, of dollars. The ford focus electric, for instance, runs around $8K for the small battery pack, $12K for the larger one:

And dont forget that, while drivng, the range dynamically changes, so dont believe that 150 mile range promise:

Electric cars have a LONG way to go before they are ready for the mass market.
 
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IAMTHESTIG

TS Evangelist
Can only be charged at the dealership? Oh my!

Given that most people want a louder than factory ICE by installing aftermarket pipes, I would think beyond the initial sales (to pansies/collectors) there won't be hardly any market. People also want to go on long distance trips with Harleys, so this is a huge downside. I can see crotch rockets being feasible for EVs, but again you don't have the sound. This market mostly cares about speed/acceleration though.
You're probably spot on here... I personally hate the loud Harley's and crotch rockets, way too loud. I get the whole anti-authority fu*k everyone attitude and the idea of being heard but unlike a lot of other drivers I actually pay attention to what the he*l I'm doing and I look before changing lanes, over my shoulder; the old school way! So when I hear these loud bikes I actually have an overwhelming desire to run them off the road just to make it quieter.
 

netman

TS Evangelist
"We recently discovered a non-standard condition during a final quality check"

The non-standard condition is most likely battery explosion while charging with high power charger....That would mean the entire Battery needs to be re-designed...! Hence for production suspension...
 

IAMTHESTIG

TS Evangelist
And yet, tesla is getting sued for battery degregation and failure to uphold their own warranty:
https://edchenlaw.com/news/tesla-hit-with-class-action-lawsuit

Nissan's leaf has serious battery degregation issues. Now, Nissan claims they have fixed this with the new generation, but the same company has claimed the same thing with their CVTs 3 or 4 times over the last decade, and three years later we go through the same cycle again.
https://insideevs.com/news/337439/nissan-issues-statement-on-leaf-30-kwh-battery-degradation/

Chevy claims up to 40% degragation of the battery may be oberved within 100K miles:
https://electrek.co/2016/12/07/gm-chevy-bolt-ev-battery-degradation-up-to-40-warranty/

Dont forget how winter temps slash your range almost in half:
https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/2018-nissan-leaf-long-term-final-update-may-2019/

And dont forget that, per the focus user manual, you are supposed to leave the car plugged in if under 32F or over 100F, to protect the battery:
http://www.fordservicecontent.com/Ford_Content/Catalog/owner_information/2017-Ford-Focus-Electric-Owners-Manual-version-1_EN-US_10_2016.pdf

There seems to be this concensus online that car batteries are completely different to cell phone batteries, that is WRONG. Car batteries are STILL lithium batteries, and as the leaf shows, when used like a cell phone, they will fail just as quickly. Tesla and ford only have good results because they use a liquid temperature management system, which comes with its own problems, and even then they are not immune to battery issues.


5 years? WOW. My 30 year old truck has the original fuel tanks, they still work perfectly. And given how much enviromental damage comes from mining the material to build electric batteries, the toxic byproducts from their acual production, ece 5 years is pathetically short.

Citation needed for getting "money back". Prius hybrid owners would liek to have a word with you on the price of new battery packs. Electric vehicles havent been around long in large numbers, and there is no set standard for buying back batteries or such. You will likely be left with an out of warranty bill in the thousands, if not tens of thousands, of dollars. The ford focus electric, for instance, runs around $8K for the small battery pack, $12K for the larger one:

And dont forget that, while drivng, the range dynamically changes, so dont believe that 150 mile range promise:

Electric cars have a LONG way to go before they are ready for the mass market.
I agree for the most part... but I think a lot of it has to do with the primary environment the vehicle is used in, charged in, and how the owner handles charging (like if the owner is frequently rapid charging it and charging to 100%, or if they only charge on 110v daily and their battery is always between 20 and 80%). There are plenty of battery-EV's (BEV's?) out there with well over 100,000 miles on their original battery still with good or great range left. BEV's living in harsh environments like extreme heat or cold don't fare as well, particularly hot climates - as we know heat kills. Tesla batteries in theory should last a bit longer since they are cooled and heated as needed, though to what extent and at what cost I don't know; but I imagine that would be a lot better than an unmanaged battery like in the Leaf's.

One could argue that the CO2 produced to manufacture a new battery pack is (and it probably is) less than the CO2 produced to drive a ICEV the same amount of miles the battery pack would last. Not to mention there is a small amount of pollution for factories making all the parts and fluids an ICEV will need in that same life span. But in harsh environments where you have to get a new battery pack every 50K miles or so it becomes less monetarily efficient and it might actually be cheaper to run an ICEV.

So I think it really depends on quite a few different factors and I doubt most greenies really consider all these things. Depending on the cost of a new battery pack and the frequency in which it will need to be replaced, it may absolutely not be worth the cost and may cost people more in the long run. Though, as for it being "greener", that may or may not be the case.
 

IAMTHESTIG

TS Evangelist
I think the guy in the first place just started his third battery pack
https://sites.google.com/view/teslamiles
That's a fancy list... now it should show number of battery replacements and general mechanical/electrical maintenance costs, primary usage of vehicle and geographical region. THEN we'd have some real, useful data. There are consumer ICEV's (not thinking of tractor trailers or transport trucks in general) out there with over 500,000 or even 1,000,000 miles on them with the original engine.