“LiveWire” Electric Harley

9172dYes, 100% electric- Forbes’ headline was “Hell Freezes Over.”  For angels and devils alike, Saturday was time for some good clean fun, at least briefly.  Project LiveWire is, currently, not Product LiveWire.  The Harley-Davidson Motor Company is taking the rideable demonstrator bikes on tour, officially to gauge interest and get rider feedback (though see below).  I caught the caravan at Brian’s Harley-Davidson, between Philadelphia and Trenton (thanks Brian!).

Anyone familiar with Harley-Davidson knows that, if nothing else, they’re experts at brand management and promotion; this tour date was no exception.  It had to be; LiveWire is both a leading-edge technology and “wedge technology,” in a wedge demographic.  I’ve already seen a call for a boycott from Harley hardliners.  Hardliners created, in part, by prior successes at branding.

9177dWhat you’d notice right away- even before stepping in the canopy- is the sound of the “Jumpstart” test stand doing a run.  Previously, Harley-Davidson brought static motorcycles to events, with the rears on dummy dynamometers.  Bike novices could twist a real, working throttle for the first time, and be introduced to Harley’s hallmark growl and rumble without actually knowing how to ride.  For the LiveWire tour, the Jumpstart version lets people experience near-ideal “throttle” response, with little or no spool-up lag, clutch losses, or other drivetrain slop.  Just realtime torque, throughout a near-ideal powerband too.  EV enthusiasts know that shifting and clutches/torque converters are actually bug fixes, not features.  Now the Jumpstart “riders” do, too.  In any case, the throttle curve could be reprogrammed arbitrarily by someone with access. Continue reading

Honda Fit EV Test Drive

This week was the Washington DC Auto Show. One day before the show opens to the IMG_20130131_152255public they have Public Policy/Press days which as an exhibitor I got to attend. Upon arriving for press day I spotted a blue Honda Fit that I knew immediately had to be the Fit EV. I also knew they usually give test drives during press day so I eagerly headed to the Honda booth to inquire about a test drive. Sure enough they were offering test drives and I was going to be the first person of the day to drive it, which was a little disconcerting since it was already 3 o’clock, how could I be the first! I also soon found out that I would graciously be behind the wheel of the ONLY Fit EV on the East Coast!

Unique EV Features in the Fit

IMG_20130131_151939I hopped straight in and took a moment to figure out every little feature that the Fit offered. One of the first and most important things you will notice when behind the wheel is that the Fit EV offers 3 different driving modes. These are located on the left side of the dash near the base of the steering column.  The first mode is sport mode and it will tell the vehicle controller to provide more current to the motor for faster acceleration. The second mode is normal that is a balanced mode. The third mode is an Econ mode that tells the controller to conserve the most power by limiting the current to the motor so that acceleration is much slower but the benefit of this mode is that it will extend the driving range of the vehicle.  I could see myself switching between these modes at different times while driving around the city. Continue reading