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Harley Davidson announced earlier this year that they were looking for a partner in Asia. A partner who will help them manufacture low cost, entry level motorcycles. Rumor was that it that Hero MotoCorp is a potential partner, and these rumors even made the rounds on social media.
Harley Davidson has just revealed the name of their Asian partner. Chinese motorcycle manufacture Zhejiang Qianjiang Motorcycle will be the name behind the production of the Harley's low cost entry level machines.
A little bit of trivia on the side — Zhejiang Qianjiang Motorcycle owns Benelli, and Geely, owner of Volvo Cars, has a majority stake in Zhejiang Qianjiang Motorcycle.
Matt Levatich, President and CEO, Harley Davidson said, "We're excited about this opportunity to build more Harley riders in China, one of the world's largest motorcycle markets, by creating new pathways to our brand."
The American-Chinese alliance will launch a 338 cc motorcycle by the end of 2020. This motorcycle is expected to launch in China first, followed by India, Australia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia.
While there is limited information about the Harley Davidson 338 cc motorcycle, there is speculation that it could be called the Harley Davidson Street 350. It will sit below the Street 500 and Street 750 in the line up, and will become Harley's cheapest motorcycle ever.
We expect the motorcycle to feature a single cylinder engine that produces roughly 30bhp of power and about 30Nm of torque. We also expect the motorcycle to be styled like the Street 750. There are also rumors that the motorcycle will be a made-in-India product, although we're unsure considering Harley has a Chinese partner.
Harley owners have opposed the launch of a smaller capacity motorcycle but the company still wants to get in to it. Rightly so, smaller capacity motorcycles are the way to go, and that is the most profitable segment. Harley is hoping this move turns around sales numbers and increases profits.
Partnering with an Asian brand has almost become a norm in the continent. KTM and BMW have both partnered with Indian manufacturers and the partnerships have done wonders, especially for Austrian manufacturer KTM.
Harley is hoping to take on Royal Enfield and Jawa with their new Chinese partnership. And with Benelli owned by Zhejiang Qianjiang Motorcycle, Harley Davidson could possibly use their outlets for sales and service.
Royal Enfield is the 300cc-500cc segment leader and currently holds over 80% of the market share. Harley wants to witness the same success for their small capacity motorcycles with this move. Interestingly, Bajaj-Triumph are also reportedly planning to launch a bike in this segment by 2022.
Thoughts About Harley Davidson Venturing In To The Small Capacity Motorcycle Segment
We had mentioned earlier that any two wheel manufacturer want to enter the Indian market and eventually find success in sales, has to cater for the masses. Royal Enfield, Bajaj, and KTM have followed this mantra, and have been highly successful. We hope Harley is able to turn things around with this move.