In May 2021, Harley-Davidson CEO Jochen Zeitz announced that the company’s electric motorcycle brand, LiveWire, would be spun off into its own independent company. Although its motorcycles would continue to be built in Harley’s York, Pennsylvania manufacturing facility, LiveWire would become its own entity apart from the Motor Company.
Later that year, in December 2021, Harley made the followup announcement that it would soon be taking LiveWire public via a $1.8 billion special purpose acquisition company (or SPAC) merger in early 2022. Among other things, this deal brought experienced Taiwanese motorbike manufacturer Kymco into the mix—a fact that’s important for some of LiveWire’s eventual plans to introduce small-displacement electric equivalents for a variety of international markets for its S3 lineup.
As a refresher, the LiveWire One was the company’s first model, followed by the middleweight S2 Del Mar that’s currently rolling out to customers in the US and Europe. According to the previously announced plans, S3 should be the lightweight bikes produced in cooperation with Kymco, while S4 will eventually see Harley LiveWire circle back to electrification of the heavy cruiser silhouettes that made it world-famous.
Since LiveWire spun into its own company, Jochen Zeitz has served as interim CEO—but it was always planned to be a temporary position. On June 5, 2023, LiveWire formally announced that its search for a permanent new CEO was over. As of June 12, 2023, Karim Donnez will officially take the reins as Chief Executive Officer of LiveWire Group Incorporated. Jochen Zeitz will remain Chairman of the LiveWire Group going forward.
Those in the powersports industry may recognize Donnez’ name, because he comes to LiveWire after having spent eight years at Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP), which is also Can-Am's parent company. He started there as senior vice president and global head of corporate strategy and planning in 2015 before taking on additional duties as senior vice president and global head of marine. In 2022, Donnez was appointed president of the BRP Marine Group, and in 2023, he is making the switch to CEO of LiveWire.
“Having successfully stood-up LiveWire as a brand and listed the Company on the NYSE, I’m excited to pass the baton to Karim and to welcome him as LiveWire’s new CEO, following an extensive global search process. Karim is an entrepreneurial business leader with a demonstrable track record of driving transformational growth through both strategy development and implementation. The Board and I look forward to Karim realizing the potential of LiveWire, as we continue on the Company’s journey to lead the electrification of the sport,” Jochen Zeitz said in a statement.
What does LiveWire’s future hold? We’ll be sure to keep you updated on all its upcoming developments.