Harley-Davidson has temporarily halted production of its LiveWire electric motorcycle after quality tests uncovered a problem with the bikes, the company said Monday.
The Wall Street Journal, citing an internal company memo, reported the problem is with the bikes' charging systems.
"We recently discovered a non-standard condition during a final quality check; stopped production and deliveries; and began additional testing and analysis, which is progressing well," the company said in a statement.
The production stoppage comes as the LiveWire models were arriving in dealer showrooms this month.
Investors seemed unmoved by the delay, with the company's shares finishing the day higher Monday after the news broke.
"Obviously this is a setback, but I don’t think this is a deal-breaker by any means," said Brian Yarbrough, a financial analyst who follows Harley-Davidson at investment firm Edward Jones. "This bike alone was not the end all, be all."
The LiveWire is a piece of Harley-Davidson's overall strategy to attract younger motorcycle riders to its brand and replace aging riders who have helped sustain the brand for a generation.
"This was one of the big products – one of their bigger pushes into catering to the environmentally conscious millennials and younger consumers," Yarbrough said.
But it's only a small part of the company's overall strategy.
Electric motorcycles are never going to replace big, heavyweight motorcycles, a market that Harley-Davidson dominates, said Todd Berlin, general manager at Suburban Harley-Davidson, a dealership in Thiensville, Wisconsin.
Berlin said the delay is not going to be a major problem for the dealership.
"I'm not too concerned about it," he said.
He added that some of his customers are waiting for the electric bikes and a few of them contacted him on Monday.
"One customer said, 'I just want it to be right when I get it,'" Berlin said.
Harley has been mindful of the challenges it faces in the marketplace as its older customers age out of riding on heavyweight motorcycles.
The company has seen a string of quarterly sales declines as the marketplace changes.
How well the LiveWire helps achieve that overall goal of bringing a new generation of riders to the brand remains to be seen.
"It depends how long it takes," to fix the problem, Yarbrough said. "It probably just sets back their original goals of how many new riders they wanted to bring in."
The LiveWire has undergone rigorous product testing in preparation for it being introduced to consumers, Harley has said. It has a suggested retail price of $29,799.
A number of companies worldwide also are seeking to bring electric motorcycles to the marketplace in an effort to attract younger, environmentally conscious riders who see the electric products as more earth-friendly than their fossil-fueled counterparts.
But the size of that market remains a question.
"You have to be a really hard core believer and into the environment totally," Yarbrough said. "The number of people and the size of the pool of people who are interested in a bike like this is probably pretty small."
Harley-Davidson has been adding smaller and medium-size bikes to its lineup to try to match up with the changing demographics.
"How long does it take until those bikes gain enough sales momentum to offset the declines in the heavyweight category? That's the million dollar question," Yarbrough said. "I think that's what investors struggle with."
Follow Joe Taschler on Twitter: @JoeTaschler.