LiveWire is now officially a publicly traded company after Harley-Davidson successfully completed a deal to partner with AEA-Bridges, resulting in the spin-off brand being floated on the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange).
Last year, Harley-Davidson quashed rumours of dropping its pioneering electric motorcycle of the same name by announcing the moniker would be spun-off into both a separate brand and a separate company.
Focusing solely on offering electric-powered motorcycles and urban mobility models, the decision came with an agreement from investors to pump money into the company and a tie-in with Taiwanese firm Kymco to develop platforms, plus a pledge to float LiveWire on the NYSE to drum up investment capital.
With Harley-Davidson finalising its deal with AEA-Bridges investors earlier in the month, on 27th September LiveWire was floated on the stock exchange for the first time, with the American company toasting the occasion by ringing the bell for the start of trading.
“This transaction represents a proud and exciting milestone for LiveWire towards its ambition to become the most desirable electric motorcycle brand in the world,” said Harley-Davidson CEO Jochen Zeitz.
“We believe LiveWire is well positioned to define the two-wheel EV market, and we’re excited about the future.”
A successful first day saw LiveWire raise $334m in share offerings, which coupled with investor capital and Kymco’s input of $100m means the company will proceed with upwards of $600m in the bank. Harley-Davidson remains the majority shareholder with a 74% stake.
You can’t fault Harley-Davidson’s ambition with the LiveWire, a premium electric-powered naked that launched in 2019.
While electric-power is gathering momentum just about now, as mainstream manufacturers communicate their road maps for a more eco-conscious, sustainable future, the Harley-Davidson LiveWire remains very ahead of its time.
Indeed, beyond the fact the LiveWire represented the antithesis of Harley’s wider range of famously fuel-hungry, large capacity cruisers, even now the LiveWire has barely any like-for-like rivals beyond the Energica Eva and much cheaper Zero SR/F.
Moreover, the combination of bland styling, bad press from poor reliability early on and a frighteningly high asking price - currently £28,999 - have conspired to consign the model, now known as the LiveWire ONE, to miserable sales of just 367 units worldwide in 2021.
As such, the future of the LiveWire appeared very much under threat come 2020 after Zeitz assumed his position as CEO in place of Matt Levatich, the man responsible for Harley’s diversification strategy that led to the LiveWire and Pan America.
Zeitz subsequently unveiled the ‘Hardwire’ and ‘Re-Wire’ strategies in a bid to stem H-D’s slumping sales by focusing on its core cruiser business, which translated to many as LiveWire’s days being numbered.
Instead, Zeitz issued a vote of confidence - while also distancing its anomalous electric model from the Harley range - by spinning LiveWire into a separate brand in return for loosening its grip on ownership and direction.
As for why, while the LiveWire’s relative failure to date can be apportioned to the timing of its launch - Harley-Davidson having misjudged the electric motorcycle market to grow quickly in a similar manner to the car industry - the flip-side of this is the company now has a huge head start over the opposition in terms of technology and know-how for when they begin launch EV products.
Coupled with Harley-Davidson’s reluctance to walk away from an expensive and complex development programme with little to show for it, LiveWire is now in a position to wait for the market to swing towards it in preparation for the industry’s mandatory shift to electric in several key regions.
While the LiveWire ONE soldiers on, the American company is on the cusp of releasing its second model - the LiveWire Del Mar - a smaller, trendier and more affordable flat-tracker style model designed for shorter, urban journeys.
Following this is expected to be more e-mobility focused machines, plus a replacement for the ONE.
LiveWire’s deal with Kymco could also result in it launching a version of the RevoNEX mid-capacity equivalent roadster to rival the Triumph Trident 660 and Yamaha MT-07.