Harley opening R&D center in Silicon Valley for EV products

Facility to open in fourth quarter of 2018

Harley-Davidson LiveWire on display
The Harley-Davidson LiveWire on display during the 115th anniversary celebration.

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:04 pm

Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson Inc. plans to open a research and development facility in Silicon Valley to support its development of electric motorcycles.

The Harley-Davidson LiveWire on display during the 115th anniversary celebration.

Harley announced in late July it would launch a production version of its LiveWire motorcycle in August 2019. The launch of LiveWire has been highly anticipated since Harley unveiled a prototype several years ago.

The company also plans to introduce several other electric models by 2022 that will be lighter, smaller and more accessible.

“The 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,” said Matt Levatich, Harley president and chief executive officer.

In March, Harley announced an equity investment in Alta Motors, which has designed and commercialized electric motorcycles aimed at motocross riders. Alta is based in Brisbane, California, just south of San Francisco.

Harley is currently looking to lease property in the Silicon Valley area and has not finalized the exact size of the facility, company spokesman Mike Pflughoeft said in an email. The facility is expected to open in the fourth quarter of this year.

The facility will initially be home to about 25 employees. Harley is currently recruiting for electrical, mechanical and software engineering positions and is targeting people with experience in developing and delivering a wide variety of electric vehicle systems from design through production.

Most of Harley’s research and development work is currently done at its Product Development Center in Wauwatosa.

“We have a fabulous product development team in the Milwaukee area, and this facility will augment and build upon that,” Pflughoeft said. “We are looking to locate in (the Silicon Valley) area because it is a hub for high-tech innovation and scientific development, especially around EV technology.”

Final assembly of LiveWire motorcycles will take place at Harley’s York, Pennsylvania factory. The company has not announced where it will produce the powertrains for its electric bikes. Harley’s factory on Pilgrim Road in Menomonee Falls currently produces engines for Harley motorcycles.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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