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Harley-Davidson invests in Alta Motors; companies will collaborate on future electric motorcycle product development

Harley-Davidson, Inc. has made an equity investment in Alta Motors, a leader and innovator in lightweight electric vehicles; the two companies will collaborate on electric motorcycle technology and new product development. Harley-Davidson has already announced the planned launch of its first electric motorcycle, informed by Project LiveWire. That motorcycle is on track for release in 2019.

Project Livewire was an electric motorcycle prototype unveiled in 2014. The motor was mounted longitudinally under the frame, and used a bevel gear to drive a belt to turn the rear wheel.

Earlier this year, as part of our 10-year strategy, we reiterated our commitment to build the next generation of Harley-Davidson riders, in part, by aggressively investing in electric vehicle (EV) technology. Alta has demonstrated innovation and expertise in EV and their objectives align closely with ours. We each have strengths and capabilities that will be mutually beneficial as we work together to develop cutting-edge electric motorcycles.

—Harley-Davidson President and CEO Matt Levatich

Riders are just beginning to understand the combined benefits of EV today, and our technology continues to progress. We believe electric motorcycles are the future, and that American companies have an opportunity to lead that future. It’s incredibly exciting that Harley-Davidson, synonymous with motorcycle leadership, shares that vision and we’re thrilled to collaborate with them.

—Alta Motors Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder, Marc Fenigstein

As electric-drive innovation brings new levels of ease, accessibility and control, Harley-Davidson and Alta Motors aim to attract new audiences who are inspired by motorcycles and drawn to the “twist-and-go” ease and exhilaration of an electric motorcycle with no gears or clutch.

Alta’s Redshift technology includes a custom 5.8 kWh battery pack weighing 30.8 kg. The Alta Pack is waterproof—rated up to IP67. It is durable enough to handle impacts and vibrations up to 20G, and it is digitally self-monitoring. The stacked, honeycomb architecture suports energy density of 185 Wh/kg. This is paired with a unique thermal wicking system to shed heat faster than any other lithium-ion transportation battery in production, the company says.

A water-cooled 14,000 RPM motor is optimized to the narrow width of the Redshift’s bulkhead and is precisely located at the roll center of the bike. This placement allows for the lowest polar moment of inertia in motorcycling—minimizing any gyroscopic impediment to handling.

The Redshift’s motor weighs 6.8 kg and puts out 40 hp and 36 lb-ft of torque. The unit pushes power through a 3.5:1 gear reduction to deliver a 122 lb-ft of torque at the counter shaft from a dead stop and 0 RPM.

The Redshift Bulkhead—the chassis core—functions as the outer motor casing, the cooling circuit for the motor and inverter, as well as the transmission case for the gear reduction. Additionally, it is the main structural hub, connecting to the rear suspension, the airframe, the forged monocoque chassis, and the trellis skidframe. All of this integration is coordinated with very specific strength, weight, and stiffness goals to produce the right ride and compliance characteristics at all lean angles, and under impact.

Alta’s award-winning Redshift platform is available to riders at 44 US dealerships across 19 states.



This sounds really interesting and a surprise to see HD 'getting it'.
I wonder what the thermal wicking system looks like and also where they see the machine and riders combined *roll centre is.
It is not common to hear reference to roll centre in m/cycling.
Ideally to keep the belt length constant the motor output should align with the rear suspension (swing) arm pivot which is also very low for CG considerations. That could be possible depending on how the rest of the vehicle systems are positioned.
Conventionally CG sits below the rider well forward of that pivot


Will be interesting to know the total weight, range and acceleration numbers. The battery density is 185Wh/Kg; there appears to be plenty of room to grown since there are are cells with 260 Wh/Kg on the market already.

Wonder how long it will take for HD riders to accept the new technology? It's a far cry from the current ICE versions.

Brian P

This will not appeal in the slightest to H-D's traditional customer base ... which is aging fast. Hopefully it will appeal to a new customer base - which H-D desperately needs to happen.

Another big question is whether the dealers will accept it. H-D's dealers have a history of rejecting anything that didn't fit the traditional H-D mold. Buell - Fail. V-Rod - Fail. MV Agusta - Fail. There is a strong possibility that the dealers won't know what to do with this.

Thomas Pedersen

Thermal wicking = heat pipe?

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