Harley-Davidson is expected to introduce a new motorcycle with a 600 cc engine displacement at a media event in Milan, Italy on November 4. The presser will precede the EICMA 71st International Motorcycle Exhibition which opens November 5. The new bike will probably be identical to the motorcycle in the photo above. The photo ran first on the Indian auto site Team-BHP.
The new bike is at the center of Harley’s global strategy of building less expensive motorcycles for so called emerging markets like India and China. Since 1981, Harley’s core market has been epitomized by the Harley Owners Group – a company sponsored, quasi motorcycle club that epitomized traditional American values. That market is now aging and growing poorer so Harley has been actively courting women and non-traditional buyers in North America and Europe.
At Harley’s 110th anniversary in Milwaukee last August, Chief Operating Officer Matthew Levatich said the new Harley would be “nimble, light weight, has a low seat height and supple throttle and braking. I’ve ridden it. It looks great, sounds great, it’s a Harley, and it’s priced right.”
Levatich also said, “The American qualities of a Harley are very important to people. The literal ‘where does that shock absorber come from’ part of it is less significant, but it has to have the spirit and soul of America. We have Harley-Davidson factories in India and Brazil. Can we leverage those facilities and expertise so it can get to the, for example, Indian consumer, faster?”
Harley has built small motorcycles before. The Buell Blast had an engine displacement of 492 cc. In 1960, Harley rebranded a 250 cc, single cylinder bike built by the Italian company Aermacchi as the Harley-Davidson Sprint.
The new little Harley will feature a completely redesigned V-Twin engine with a wider than 45 degree cylinder angle. The bike will be built first in India.
Harley-Davidson entered the Indian market in 2009 and has sold only about 2,000 motorcycles there in the last four years. But the company has been adding dealers in the last year and has an assembly plant in Bawal in North Central India near New Delhi. Harley assembles Fat Boys, Fat Boy Specials and Heritage Softail Classics in Bawal. The motor company has announced it will begin assembling three more models in India in 2014 but hasn’t said what those models will be.
The new Little Harley will be manufactured, not just assembled, in India and is expected to cost less than $5,000.
Anoop Prakash, the motor company’s Managing Director for India told the Hindustan Times last month, “At Harley-Davidson India, we are enthusiastic about this market. We are a lifestyle brand. Last thing you do is to cut down on your passion and Harley is all about passion. We have seen a steady growth here.”