Harley-Davidson seeks partner for lightweight bikes to grow India business

Vastavam web: Harley-Davidson Inc is scouting for a partner with a manufacturing and distribution footprint to make lightweight motorcycles for use in India and other Asian markets, a top company executive said. The Milwaukee-based company, known for its heavy touring motorcycles, said last week it would launch a 250cc to 500cc motorcycle in India to boost sales in the world’s largest two-wheeler market as it grapples with an aging customer base and falling sales in the United States.

“We realize that we as a company have been very focused on large heavyweight motorcycles and our expertise in the 250-500cc space needs to grow,” Marc McAllister, vice president of product portfolio at Harley-Davidson, told in an telephone interview on Friday. “We are looking for a strategic alliance that can help us grow through understanding the product, understanding the consumer, understanding the assembly,” he said. Helped by rising discretionary spending, motorcycles sales in India are experiencing double-digit percentage growth, compared with tepid recent consumer demand in the United States.

Harley expects the lightweight segment to act as a “bridge” to its brand, said McAllister, giving it a chance to make deeper inroads into a market where over 20 million two-wheelers are sold annually. The company had been criticized by U.S. President Donald Trump over a plan move production for European customers overseas to avoid retaliatory tariffs in a trade dispute between the United States and European Union. Harley is hoping a foray into the lightweight segment, along with other new product launches, will expand its operating margins and add up to $250 million in operating profit in 2022. McAllister said the new bike will a premium product, but declined to reveal a price range.