Harley-Davidson rides into India

The Harley-Davidson finally launched bikes in India and fans of the cult bike can get their hands on the bike for a starting price about US$ 14,000 (or about Rs. 7 lakh) in the first half of next year.

After years of negotiations that even involved country to country exchanges – Harleys in India for desi mangoes in the US — the all-American bike has decided it couldn’t risk not being in India any longer.

The decision to enter Indian market had nothing to do with the current situation in the US, and falling sales that have called for “belt tightening” activities, said Mr Levatich President and COO, Harley-Davidson Motor Company. The Indian market was ripe, as proven by the existing international heavyweights that have outperformed their own estimates.

The company’s newly appointed Managing Director for India, Mr Anoop Prakash, said Harley-Davidson would be importing 12-15 models, representing each of its family of bikes as completely built units from the US.

According to Mr Levatich, the decision to set up a semi-knocked down or assembly unit in India would be taken depending on market demand. As a principle, the all-American brand would consider assembling outside the US market, only to meet local demand, and never to import the bikes back into the US.

Despite its wait, the current duty structure still means that when the bike leaves the showroom it will cost twice as much as it does in the US. Harley-Davidson is going to be choosy about dealers, picking those that can truly replicate the authentic Harley experience. But it is confident of competing with the Ducati, Suzuki and Yamaha.

Mr Prakash says the first few dealerships will be open by the first half of 2010. It is looking at five initially in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyundai Chandigarh and Ludhiana.

The Harley-Davidson bikes start at 883 cc going up to 1550cc. Lighter bikes, which promise to bring in the volumes, is an option that the company is considering. But it is the authentic experience that Harley lovers will be seeking anyway.

Merchandise and customisation, a strong Harley tradition, will be available too.

Harley Davidson

Source & Pictures: Hindu