Become a Member: Get Ad-Free Access to 3,000+ Reviews, Guides, & More

Harley-Davidson adds Silicon Valley R&D

Electric Harley-Davidson LiveWire leads parade smart desert charging 2019
LiveWire unveiled in Milwaukee

Harley-Davidson is certainly serious about electric motorcycles with the announcement of a new research and development facility in California’s Silicon Valley for its coming line of electric motorcycles and bicycles.

The new facility, serving as a satellite of the Willie G. Davidson Product Development Facility in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, is expected to open in the fourth quarter of 2018.

This follows company boss Matt Levatich leading the Thunder Run parade through Milwaukee last weekend at their 115th Anniversary on a LiveWire electric motorcycle.

Electric Harley-Davidson LiveWire leads parade silicon
Matt leads the parade

The LiveWire sports bike hits the market next year with a range of smaller electric motorcycles, bicycles and even a scooter coming in the next four years.

LiveWire is not expected to be coming to Australia until about 2020.

Silicon Valley talent

“This new R&D facility in the heart of Silicon Valley will help us deliver on those plans and demonstrate our commitment to lead the electrification of the sport,” Matt says.

Matt Levatich Harley-Davidson CEO politics silicon
Matt at the 115th party

The new R&D centre will initially focus on electric vehicle research and development, including battery, power electronics and e-machine design, development and advanced manufacturing.

Their official press release says the company may consider expanding the centre’s focus to “an increased range of advanced technologies that uniquely leverage the rich talent in the Silicon Valley and support its most comprehensive and competitive lineup of motorcycles across a broad spectrum of price points, power sources and riding styles”.

“The company has already begun recruiting top talent in electrical, mechanical and software engineering, with experience in developing and delivering a wide variety of EV systems from design through production,” the release says.

The facility will initially employ about 25 staff, most of whom the company intends to hire from within the Silicon Valley area.Sporty Harley-Davidson electric LiveWire parade silicon

Going it alone

In March, Harley-Davidson acquired a stake in American electric dirt bike company Alta Motors and Matt says their engineers have learnt a lot about battery technology from their collaboration.

That collaboration project has now finished although Harley remains a part owner and may have further projects with the company.

However, they now appear to be going it alone on electric vehicle research and development.