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Harley-Davidson's electric motorcycle needs a few more years to power up

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Cost and range are the main issues before the LiveWire can go on sale

Harley-Davidson has been showing off its first electric motorcycle, Project LiveWire, for nearly a year now, taking the prototype on promotional tours around the US to gather feedback from riders. The company hasn't previously mentioned launch dates for the bike, but has now confirmed that it's going to be a while before the LiveWire goes on sale. Harley-Davidson's chief executive Matt Levatich told The Wall Street Journal that a launch isn't likely "in the next couple years but it’s not past 2020 either."

Customers want a range of at least 100 miles for $20,000

The main problems, says Levatich, are cost and range. The three dozen LiveWire prototypes produced by Harley are only good for around 50 miles before they need recharging, and customers reportedly expect to get at least double that. Similarly, Levatich says people are willing to pay around $20,000 for an electric motorcycle from Harley, but at that price the company wouldn't make any profit. By comparison, prices for smaller firm Zero Motorcycles' electric Zero SR start at $15,995 with a quoted range of 115 miles of combined city and highway driving. A bigger rival, Polaris Industries, is set to launch its own electric motorbike later this year for between $21,000 and $25,000 notes the WSJ.

Harley-Davidson doesn't see any harm in waiting it out though. The company is reportedly confident that its dominant market share and star power mean that it doesn't need to rush out a product. "Will we get to that Nirvana that customers say they want? Probably not," Levatich tells the WSJ. "Will we get close enough? I believe we will." There may be other problems ahead though. When The Verge tested out the LiveWire in June last year we loved the bike's design, but riders told us they worried that it just didn't sound like a Harley — an issue of safety as much as aesthetics.