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

Business Insider US
Matthew DeBord/BI
  • Harley-Davidson's LiveWire electric motorcycle went on sale in 2019.
  • The LiveWire is part of Harley's global strategy to remain viable and ensure the iconic company's future.
  • In 2020, Harley could put the electric motorcycle on the map; for a decade, various startups have entered the fray, but electric bikes remain a niche thing.
  • Harley-Davidson doesn't do niche. The LiveWire could be the most exciting electric vehicle of 2020.
  • For more stories go to

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

The price - around R420,000 - 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.

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

Matthew DeBord/BI

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


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.

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

Getty Images

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

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.

Electrify America

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

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

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.

Markets Insider

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


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

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.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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

LiveWire looks ... impressive. And it's priced accordingly, starting at about R420,000.


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

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.

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