In a flash announcement today, Harley-Davidson has done the most unexpected turnaround in its more-than-a-century long policy of building nothing but all American cruisers. According to the company’s official statement this change of heart will herald the arrival of two brand new adventure tourers to take on the magnificent BMW R 1200 GS-es, mighty Triumph Tigers and the versatile Ducati Multistradas alongside the slew of Japanese ADVs that already exist. Harley’s newfound direction doesn’t stop there either for also in the offing are no less than nine streetfighters and five custom models ranging from 500 to 1250cc machines. The less shocking news was that of its plans to build small capacity (by Harley standards of course) 250-500cc motorcycles in collaboration with an as yet unnamed Indian partner. With Triumph already having shaken hands with Bajaj Auto and BMW Motorrad inking a partnership with TVS Motors, a similar move by Harley was only a matter of time. Should we now expect one from Ducati as well? Food for thought there.
Harley expects to have the partnership and its resultant small capacity bikes ready for the road over the next two years (Amen to that) in India and other emerging markets. Emerging markets being corporate speak for South East Asia. This announcement – read, decision – comes on the back of a survey done by Harley, according to which the 250-500cc class is one of the fastest growing and therefore most promising segments to operate in. Especially in India where as many as 7 lakh units were sold in 2017 alone with the segment expected to grow at an incredible 25 per cent by 2020.
The growth rate in the 500 and above category can be anywhere between 18 and 28 per cent by 2020, even if the absolute numbers in 2017 were at a much lower 8,500 units. The first of Harley’s future line up in the 500-plus cee cee class will be the Pan America 1250 adventure tourer, seen here in its concept form. As its name indicates, power will obviously come from a 1250cc. But don’t expect a triple or an L-twin. The unit will continue to be a V-twin in the age old Harley tradition. This will be followed by a 975cc street fighter and a custom. These are expected by early 2020.
Subsequently, there will be a Pan America 975 and a string of eight more street fighters and four more customs. All of which, Harley says, will be ready by 2022 and will be built on a brand new modular platform as part of the company’s ‘More Roads to Harley-Davidson’ programme. The platform will support three different segments and four different engine displacements.
Last but not the least, Harley-Davidson is also planning to launch the LiveWire – its first electric motorcycle sometime in 2019, which takes inspiration from the Project LiveWire concept that was showcased back in 2014. The feedback taken from the Project LiveWire concept, which was tested in real world conditions around the world was used to develop the LiveWire motorcycle. The electric motorcycle will be launched in USA and Europe first, in 2019. The company has not released the technical details of the motorcycle.
Part of its expansion plan also includes enhancing its dealership network and join hands with e-commerce giants to reach the masses. Harley-Davidson also plans to open new retail outlets and strengthen its dealer network in more cities with a focus on tier II and tier III cities to make its presence felt.