Harley-Davidson’s electric LiveWire motorcycle has hit a metaphorical short circuit with production stopped for a “nonstandard condition” involving the home charger.
The company has asked owners only to charge their bikes with the DC fast charger supplied at some HD dealerships.
There is no other information from the company.
Even though it doesn’t arrive in Australia until late next year, we asked Harley-Davidson Australia for comment and received an unusual stoney silence.
A couple of days later, they responded with this statement:
As we lead in the electrification of motorcycles, we have delivered our first LiveWire motorcycles to authorized LiveWire dealers. 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. 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.
We also asked abut the number of Aussie orders and how many dealers were installing the DC fast charger and received this response:
We are not in a position to share any specific details and we are currently working closely with our dealer network as we get ready to welcome what will be a very exciting product for Australian and New Zealand customers.
Without specific details, we speculate that the home chargers could overheat causing a fire.
In March, the entire fleet of 18 Energica electric motorcycles for the MotoE series were destroyed in a blaze that was blamed on a short circuit in one of the charging units.
Electric vehicle and charger fires can be caused by short-circuits, power surges, impact, excessive discharge or overheating.
They also cause special concerns for fire fighters.
Lithium batteries are obviously made with lithium which is highly flammable and stored in mineral oil.
While it is not toxic, it can cause nausea, diarrhoea, dizziness, muscle weakness, fatigue and a dazed feeling.
Electric vehicle and battery fires can also release sulphuric acid, carbon monoxide, copper and cobalt.
Fire fighters can’t douse the flames with water as the high voltage can cause an electric shock or electrocution.
Instead, they have to disconnect the power supply (usually an orange plug) and contain the fire to let it burn itself out.
LiveWire short circuit
This short circuit to Harley’s electric motorcycle program follows a month delay in deliveries to US dealerships where it has created a lot of interest, but not a lot of sales.
Buyers are apparently baulking at the $US29,990 price (about $A44,000).
Some dealers are even rejecting the expensive DC fast-charger installation which is a requirement of being able to sell the bike.
So Harley has two major PR exercises going at the moment to rescue the LiveWire.
Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor are currently shooting Long Way Up from the bottom to the top of the Americas, riding LiveWire motorcycles.
And now HD has brought in Hollywood action star Jason Momoa who plays Aquaman and Khal Drogo to test ride the bike.
“Harley wanted me to test one of the new LiveWires, I was kind of like ehhh. I like the idea of it but I wanted to hear it,” says Jason who is more at home on pushrod fuel burners.
While filming on the Gold Coast in 2017, he took delivery of a Softail.
Now he says he is stoked by the electric bike.
“I have never been on anything this fast, it kind of blew my mind,” he says.
“I am in love with it, it’s amazing and I look forward to the future of many more of these bikes.
“It’s so fast, faster than I need, it’s amazing. It’s good for the planet, beautiful, we’re moving with the times.
“Best part is, it’s the future. You can have this and your old one. It’s amazing.”
Harley is going to need a lot of star power to help the LiveWire over this current short circuit!