Harley-Davidson to fight in India with smaller engine bikes

Harley-Davidson Streetfighter 975

The Milwaukee-based company, often regarded as maker of iconic American products, said it will launch a new platform by 2020 of middleweight motorcycles with engines of 500cc to 1250cc capacity, and a smaller model for emerging markets in Asia.

Iconic American motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson unveiled on Monday a global growth plan to revamp its US business with new products and cost-cutting measures, while also expanding internationally.

Harley, known for its car-alarm triggering engine rumble, will roll out an electric motorcycle called LiveWire next year, with no clutch and no gears.

Harley-Davidson's entry into the small and mid-sized motorcycles segment is not only to expand its customer base but also to one's of the world's largest and fastest-growing markets.

Harley-Davidson also announced plans to partner with an Asian motorcycle manufacturer to develop small-displacement models from 250cc to 500cc within the next two years.

"The bold actions we are announcing today leverage Harley-Davidson's vast capabilities and competitive firepower - our excellence in product development and manufacturing, the global appeal of the brand and of course, our great dealer network", said Matt Levatich, president and chief executive officer, Harley-Davidson Inc.

Harley is scrambling to steer through a year-long slump in United States demand as it grapples with an aging customer base and it is aiming to boost sales of its motorcycles overseas. During that time, the company also wants to gain 2 million new riders to reverse declining sales. "Alongside our existing loyal riders, we will lead the next revolution of two-wheeled freedom to inspire future riders who have yet to even think about the thrill of riding". Livewire will be supplemented by small and lighter electric motorcycles in the years leading up to 2022.

While details are sketchy as of now, 2020 is said to be the year when Harley Davidson will start launching its all-new range of motorcycles targeted at younger buyers. Could this bike pave the way for smaller bikes to join the line-up as well?

The accelerated strategy will require significant investment to change the trajectory of the business globally, and the company plans to fund it entirely through comprehensive cost reduction and reallocation of previously planned investment and resources including operating investment through 2022 of $450 to $550 million and capital investment through 2022 of $225 to $275 million. In all, in the April to June period of 2018, Harley-Davidson sold 78,428 motorcycles, compared to 81,388 motorcycles in the same period in 2017.

Rather, Harley - which recently said it would close a factory in Missouri to concentrate manufacturing in the U.S. - is up against three distinct challenges. With India being at the fore of it, we can expect Harley-Davidson to reach out for the people who fancied the brand only from bedroom wall posters and make them ride it in reality.

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