According to the folks at Indian auto site Zigwheels, Harley-Davidson is finally ready to get serious about the Indian market, and plans on developing and selling a made-for-India model. The entry-level machine would slot in below the current 883cc Sportsters, and be ground-up manufactured locally in India as well.
Zigwheels goes on to say that its sources peg Harley-Davidson executives from the US and India as meeting with Indian vendors and dealers in order to setup distribution of the new model(s). Expected to debut at the 2014 New Delhi show, the India-specific line will arrive in the 400cc-500cc range, feature a v-twin motor, and cost Rs 3.5 lakh ($6,381).
This price and feature point should put Harley-Davidson directly in competition with bikes like the Kawasaki Ninja 250R and KTM 390 Duke in the Indian market, though commanding a premium over these models.
Though rebounding from the recession, Harley-Davidson’s sales in the US are still well below the company’s peak figures from half a decade ago. With the motorcycle industry stagnant for growth in North America and Europe, virtually every brand is looking towards India, and Southeast Asia as a whole, for continued profitability and growth.
More of a lifestyle company that happens to sell motorcycles, Harley-Davidson has perhaps the biggest challenges in going abroad, as it has to sell a certain image in order to move its machines off the dealership floor. Whether or not the Milwaukee brand will have to tune and refine that image further to meet a global market remains to be seen.
Undoubtedly the Harley-Davidson faithful will have a few things to say about a small-displacement, foreign-built line of “American” motorcycles. This means that the next two years are an interesting time for the company, and we look forward to watching how Harley-Davidson deals with this difficult, yet necessary, transition.