Will Harley-Davidson outsource motorcycle production to India?

American Indian

By Alan Cathcart, Illustration by Jean-Marie Guerin

Harley-Davidson—America’s oldest and largest motorcycle manufacturer—is apparently preparing to outsource some motorcycle production to India. Reliable sources in both India and Italy insist The Motor Company is developing an all-new, small-displacement V-twin platform that will be manufactured at H-D’s purpose-built, 70,000 sq.-ft. factory outside Delhi. This new machine will let Harley sidestep ban on importing under-800cc bikes to India—one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing motorcycle markets—and also provide American dealers with a much-needed replacement for the entry-level Buell Blast.

The powertrain will be developed by Harley-Davidson in Milwaukee, while overall design and styling has reportedly been entrusted to Bologna, Italy’s, Engines Engineering, a wholly owned subsidiary of Indian conglomerate Mahindra. The surprising decision to trust such crucial tasks to an outside firm must be a nod to its experience developing products specific to the Indian market.

Little is known about the new platform, and The Motor Company has said nothing beyond confirming “Harley-Davidson is developing a replacement for the Buell Blast. We have not provided specifics about the motorcycle currently in development, or the possible timing of its introduction.” It’s anticipated that two versions will be offered—one under 500cc for use in Harley-Davidson’s Rider’s Edge training programs, and a 750cc version to fill the gap between India’s predominantly small-displacement domestic product and heavily taxed (103 percent!), over-800cc imports. These bikes will also fill a hole for American Harley-Davidson dealers, providing more affordable and accessible options than Harley’s traditional product line, to attract younger consumers into dealerships.

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