Harley Davidson may become affordable soon as it plans to enter 250-300 cc segment
Harley Davidson's recent unveiling of two Dark Custom motorcycles starting at an estimated 4.5 lakh may be just the beginning of a bid to reach deeper into India, the world's largest two-wheeler market after China, as it looks at developing bikes in the 250-300 cc segment with competition intensifying in premium vehicles. The iconic motorcycle maker wants to make and sell these smaller-engine bikes with extensive local involvement to bring prices down, said two persons close to the development.
"It's an all-new bike from Harley Davidson, being developed with extensive involvement with Indian component makers, using a large percentage of locally sourced parts to control costs," said one of the two. "The new bikes are expected to hit the market next year and would help the American bike maker garner some big volumes in the Indian market."
These bikes could compete with the likes of the Bajaj Pulsar and the Hero Karizma ZMR. Harley Davidson will source headlamps, tyres, cowls, shock absorbers and other parts from local vendors, said the persons cited above. Engine and gear technology will be handled by the company itself, apart from the signature design. "The product is currently under development without a price point," said the person cited above.
The company won't comment on speculation or what products may be in development, said Harley Davidson India managing director Anoop Prakash.
"Harley Davidson has stated that it is not our strategy to develop any market-specific motorcycles," he said. "We don't have any in our portfolio today and we have no plans. The company is committed to developing exceptional products that fulfill the dreams of customers worldwide."
India's premium motorcycle market is growing rapidly. Harley Davidson is the leader of the segment, having sold more than 2,000 motorcycles since its India debut in August 2009 and is looking at increasing volume.
Its rivals include Ducati of Italy, Suzuki, Honda, Yamaha and Kawasaki of Japan and Hyosung of South Korea, with sales of around 1,500-2,000 bikes a year in the premium price band of 10 lakh and upward. India's Royal Enfield, meanwhile, produces about 1.25 lakh bikes for its global markets, but these are sold at much lower prices of up to 3 lakh.
Harley Davidson has been assembling completely knocked down kits at its facility in Manesar, since January 2011.
The company is trying to build a stronger base in the Indian market as competition intensifies. UK-based Triumph Motorcycles will launch half a dozen new bikes in India on November 28. The range includes cruiser, sport and motoring models.
The two Dark Custom motorcycles - Street 750 and Street 500 - feature the first all-new platform from the company in the past 14 years, and have been designed for India and emerging markets. Both bikes were showcased at the ongoing Milan motor show targeted at young urban riders.
In India, the Dark Custom bikes will roll out from Harley's manufacturing plant in Bawal, also in Haryana, according to a top executive.
They have a large proportion of locally sourced components, which helped the company price them lower than its existing range and gain volume in the annual 14 million unit Indian two-wheeler market. The Street 750 and Street 500 are expected to hit the market in 2014 with starting prices of 4.5 lakh excluding insurance and road tax in New Delhi. These bikes are priced in the range of $6,700-7,500 in the US market. The cheapest bike in Harley's current line-up is the Superlow that starts at Rs 5.91 lakh in Delhi.
Prakash confirmed to ET that Harley Davidson will launch the Street 750 model at the 2014 Auto Expo, which is scheduled for February 5-12. Harley Davidson may become affordable soon as it plans to enter 250-300 cc segment - The Economic Times