Tag

electric

Browsing

It was just six months ago that we broke the news about Harley-Davidson investing in electric motorcycle maker Alta Motors, and now in that short timeframe that story has seemingly made a 180° turn.

Our sources tell us that Harley-Davidson has all but removed itself from its joint motorcycle project with Alta, and backed out of its involvement in the San Francisco startup.

For Alta, this means losing the backing of a strategic investor, as well as the resources that Harley-Davidson wields in the motorcycle industry when it comes to purchasing power and vehicle development.

For the Bar & Shield brand, this raises interesting questions about Harley-Davidson’s electric roadmap, which the company revealed just one month ago – not so subtly with a concept sketch that clearly showed the use of an Alta Motors battery pack.

September will be an historic day for the Vespa scooter brand, as next month the Piaggio Group plans to begin finally the production of the Vespa Elettrica electric scooter.

Taking the classic Italian “wasp” design that has warmed the hearts of many owners, the Elettrica adds an electric drive train to the mix, to ensure Vespa’s iconic status endures for many generations to come.

Initially slated to be in production by “late 2017”, it has taken Piaggio a bit longer than expected to get the Vespa Elettrica out the door. But, with production set to start in September, at least the Italians are making good on their promise to make this model a reality.

A motorcycle company’s first recall is a milestone event, an unwelcome milestone, but an inevitable one nonetheless. That is where startup Alta Motors finds itself today, with its first recall hitting the NHTSA newswires. Affecting certain 2019 Alta Redshift EXR and 2018-2019 Alta Redshift MXR motorcycles, this recall concerns Alta’s throttle system, which under specific circumstances can fail, and cause an apparent “stall” of the motor. The issue is software related, however, and the fix is an update to the firmware to the affected motorcycles. The firmware update takes about 15 minutes to perform. According to Alta’s recall documents, the “stall” (for a lack of a better word) occurs when the throttle is rolled forward, past the closed position, which then trips up the software reading the throttle position.

There were high fives heard all over Milwaukee last week. Reading the headlines and stories that came from Harley-Davidson’s Mega Monday announcement, one could only conclude that the American icon was back. They did it. They were showing signs of life again. Boomshackalacka. No one saw an adventure-touring bike with knobby tires coming from the Bar & Shield brand, and the idea of a sport bike from Harley-Davidson seemed inconceivable just over a week ago as well. Milwaukee even impressed with its more “core” offerings, with the Harley-Davidson Custom being perhaps the first cruiser we would want sitting in our garage. It looks gorgeous, and is just sporty and modern enough to be “a real motorcycle” in our eyes…we think.

The biggest announcement from Harley-Davidson today wasn’t its adventure-touring motorcycle (though it looks interesting), and it wasn’t its new Streetfighter or Custom models either (one of these I like, the other not so much). The big news wasn’t the Livewire getting closer to production, though that is close to the mark, and where this story is ultimately headed. All of these announcement would have been worthy of their own day in the press cycle, but the real news from the Bar & Shield brand is a look at Harley-Davidson’s upcoming electric lineup, which is coming across as very robust, and shows a decisive plan for the future. I never thought I would see the day, but here it is. Harley-Davidson is going electric, in a big way.

Harley-Davidson made a big push today, showing a number of bikes and concepts that it plans to bring to market by 2022. All of them were a big surprise, but one of them we already knew about: the Harley-Davidson Livewire. While not as big of a shock as the adventure-touring Pan America concept, or the Harley-Davidson Streetfighter or Custom models (to say the least about its upcoming electric lineup), Harley-Davidson has given us something to talk about with this electric power cruiser. Namely, the Harley-Davidson Livewire looks ready in production and in form, even though its official debut is still a year away. Since we first saw the Livewire concept (below), a number of things have changed for the production model.

A Revelation is coming…and by that, I mean Harley-Davidson’s awkwardly named electric motorcycle, which is due to debut in roughly one year’s time from now.

The Bar & Shield brand stunned the motorcycling masses when it brought out its Project Livewire demo bikes, showing that the iconic American brand was seriously considering an electric motorcycle model.

Now, Project Livewire is to become the Harley-Davidson Revelation, and the folks in Milwaukee are looking for some help in bringing that bike to market, posting a number of job opportunities online for those who want to work on the electric bike.

Along with the more typical roles that one would see at a motorcycle company — e.g. chassis engineers, infotainment designers, suspension gurus, etc — Harley-Davidson is also looking for some folks to fill its EV ranks.

Elected on a platform to do away with regulatory interference, especially Obama-era fuel economy targets, the Trump Administration is now looking to end California’s waiver under the Clean Air Act.

Ending the waiver effectively means that the United States would finally have a unified set of regulations for vehicles emissions and fuel efficiency standards, as California (through the California Air Resources Board) often sets higher requirements, through its Clean Air Act waiver.

Looking to gut the regulatory force of CARB, this news would also mean that vehicle makers would have lower targets to hit for gas mileage efficiency (37mpg instead of 46.8mpg), which in turn means that brands would have to sell fewer electric vehicles as well.

Lastly, under the proposed changes, vehicle emission standards would freeze at the planned 2020 levels, until the year 2026.

I first rode a Zero back in 2009. It was a horrible machine. It was so bad, I don’t even dare call it a motorcycle – the execution on that goal was just too far off the mark to warrant calling that creation a motorcycle.

For an example of this, I remember going for a ride on an early Zero S and the on/off switch was marked in sharpie, right on the frame.

The brakes were like wooden blocks attached to the wheels, which didn’t matter much because the tires were cheap rubber from China that were absolutely useless (and terrifying) in the rain.

It wouldn’t take long to learn that Zero’s focus on lightweight components was a bad decision as well, as we would see frames on the dirt bike models collapsing when taken over any sort of jump.

The bikes from Zero were so bad, the product reviews on them could serve as a litmus test of who in the media was bought and paid for, and who was actually speaking truth to power.

These machines were objectively awful, and anyone telling you otherwise was getting paid – straight up.

I could probably go on and on about the quality issues of these early machines, but it would rob us time from discussing the constant management issues that Zero has faced in the past decade, its failed dealership and servicing model, not to mention just the general branding issue of calling your product a “Zero”.

To their credit though, the folks at Zero have improved their product with each successive iteration. The management team finally seems to be stable; Zero now uses a traditional dealership model, and isn’t wasting time sending technicians all over the country in a van; and well…the branding is still tough, but there is a new corporate logo.

Most importantly though, Zero’s motorcycles are actually now motorcycles. The quality of these machines has improved dramatically, and generally the bikes are fun to ride.

So what is keeping me from putting a Zero in my garage, and using that massive electric torque to put a grin on my face? The answer is right there above these words, in the lead photo of this story.