Is Harley-Davidson building a new small-capacity motorcycle for the Asian market? That’s what many industry insiders now believe, after comments made by the company’s president/CEO.
Speaking to shareholders after last month’s first quarter financial results were unveiled (not great, but not as bad as expected, in case you wondered), Harley-Davidson bigwig Matt Levatich made the following statement:
“… progress in Q1 included steps towards a partnership for a premium small displacement offering in Asia, to expand our reach in that region. We are just over a year away from launching our first model that will help provide access to millions of customers in emerging markets in the region.”
Hang on a minute. Doesn’t Harley-Davidson already have a “small displacement” machine in the Asian market? Well, sort of. From what we can find online, Harley-Davidson sells its Street 750 in India, but not the Street 500. Indeed, Harley-Davidson has said in the past that it wasn’t planning to sell the Street 500 in India. International-market versions of the bike are built in India, but not sold there. It is available in other Asian markets, as far as we understand.
So, Harley-Davidson is planning something new, then? It sounds like it. Why would Harley-Davidson need to establish a partnership for a bike it’s already producing in India? It sounds much more like Harley-Davidson has another arrangement in mind, something similar to what we see already going on in India with TVS and BMW, or KTM and Bajaj.
Although we probably have a good idea what the partnership would look like, it’s somewhat less clear what such a bike could look like. Would we see a single-cylinder cruiser? Or would Harley-Davidson break some stereotypes, like it’s already doing with its streetfighter, adventure bike and electric bike programs? The future of the Motor Company is perhaps more interesting than ever.