Harley-Davidson unveils $825M global growth initiative

Harley-Davidson Streetfighter 975

The Milwaukee-based company, often regarded as maker of iconic American products, said it will launch a new platform by 2020 of middleweight motorcycles with engines of 500cc to 1250cc capacity, and a smaller model for emerging markets in Asia. Harley-Davidson plans to develop a 250-500cc motorcycle through a strategic alliance in Asia that will be used to primarily fuel its growth in India, the world's biggest two-wheeler market.

Harley will be developing a new flexible architecture to spawn motorcycles from 500-1250 cc segments while the 250-500 cc bikes in the pipeline will appeal for the masses in India. Trump complained when Harley announced in June that it would shift production to non-US markets to build bikes for Europe, dodging potential tariffs.

Traditional dealerships will still play an important role, and Harley-Davidson says it will implement a new performance framework to strengthen its dealer network.

Harley-Davidson also said it was moving the Livewire availability to August 2019, and released an updated picture (below).

With an eye on India, Harley-Davidson has made a decision to go small at a time when it is caught in a bitter trade war initiated by US President Donald Trump. And now the company has announced the next revolution of two-wheeled freedom.

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These will be joined by a range of lightweight urban motorcycles also within 4 years, although for now, there are no more details other than a few concept sketches. Livewire will be supplemented by small and lighter electric motorcycles in the years leading up to 2022. The small-displacement models will help increase Harley-Davidson's brand in Asia while acting as a bridge to its larger-displacement models.

Speaking with CNBC, Levatich said that riding the LiveWire "is a different feeling". Harley-Davidson will also open smaller storefronts in urban areas.

Harley-Davidson's plans are expected to intensify competition for Eicher Motors Ltd's Royal Enfield, which is a segment leader and has nearly no competition as yet in the domestic market. During that time, the company wants to gain 2 million new riders to reverse declining sales.

United States sales slid 6.4 per cent in the most recent quarter, and they're down 8.7 per cent at the halfway point of the year. The idea is to compete in large and fast-growing segments of global markets, with a full portfolio of motorcycles across a broad spectrum of price points and displacements.

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