Harley-Davidson restarts Livewire sales after charging system scare

Harley-Davidson has resumed production and deliveries of the much-anticipated and much-delayed Livewire, its first series-produced electric model. The company hasn’t shed light on the problem that led it to idle the assembly line for about a week, but it described it as an isolated incident, and added there’s nothing to worry about.

“Temporarily stopping LiveWire production allowed us to confirm that the nonstandard condition identified on one motorcycle was a singular occurrence. We take pride in our rigorous quality assurance measures, and our drive to deliver the world’s best motorcycles,” a spokesperson for the American firm told The Verge.

Harley vaguely described the issue as a glitch in the final quality checks, according to Reuters. The firm quickly asked existing customers to charge at their nearest dealership, not at home, while it looked into the matter. Concrete details about the problem, or what could happen if customers continued to use the supplied charger, weren’t provided. Now that production is underway again, customers are free to plug-in their bike at home.

The entire Livewire project has not gone well for Harley-Davidson. Introduced at CES 2019, the company’s first fully electric bike has been delayed, and it has received extensive criticism for being too expensive, and a slow seller. All this for a bike that has the expectations of saving Harley, and bringing younger riders to the storied, Milwaukee-based brand.

Reuters spoke with 40 of the 150 dealerships selling the bike, and it learned the majority of Livewire buyers are existing Harley riders, not the young, hip, and wealthy first-timers the company is hoping to attract. The new riders who inquired about the bike lost interest in it after they learned it costs as much as a nicely equipped family crossover. “Interest is very high, but once you get to the pricing, interest is thrown out the window,” said a sales manager at a dealership in New Jersey.

There’s little indication that Harley is willing to offer discounts or incentives, according to the same report, presumably because it spent a fortune developing a flagship product from scratch, and it understandably wants to recoup its investment. To add context, many of the company’s gasoline-powered 2020 bikes start under $20,000.

Updated on October 21, 2019: Added information about production resuming.

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