And so it begins!
We knew Harley-Davidson was looking at downsizing. In fact, a number of the industry’s giants have teamed up with Indian counterparts to come up with new, small-displacement models to appeal to the Asian market. Last year, the Milwaukee company announced it was looking to partner up as well to help develop baby Harleys bound for Indian. While the brand is seemingly still looking for its sensei in the matter of small (and cheap) motorcycles, this hasn’t kept the company from going forward with its plan.
Developing the Asian market has been part of Harley’s big plan that established a timeline and a set of goals to help the brand add new strings to its bow face increasing challenges. Developing a small model is one of the boxes to check off on its to-do list and to help turn the plan into a reality, Harley announced that it was looking to partner up with an Indian manufacturer to expedite the process.
While no partnership has been formally announced, Harley-Davidson has confirmed that it will likely launch a sub-500cc model for 2020. Local media have speculated that considering the company is already rolling Street 750s out of India, chances are a new model could use a similar platform since the factory already has the blueprints and equipment. Of course, as far as the brand’s reputation goes, a cruiser-style bike is expected, despite its plan to diversify its portfolio of products. As for pricing, the Indian media speculates a new H-D could likely come in around the US$4,000 mark.
The introduction of these smaller models in Asia could mean a number of things. First, that Harley isn’t so set in its old ways anymore and that it’s willing to learn from emerging markets. Also, that these small displacement bikes could potentially make their way to other markets in one form or another and contribute to Harley’s plan to appeal to a younger, broader audience. India might look far away, but whatever is happening there can have a significant impact on our own market so it’s pretty exciting to see what will come next.