Harley Davidson gears up to hit Indian roads in 2010

Written by fe Bureaus | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 29 2009, 04:33am hrs
After sporty bikes from Yamaha, Suzuki, Honda and Ducati established themselves in the Indian market, the all-American bike or ultimate cruiser maker Harley Davidson is finalising its plans for India.

Almost two years after Harley Davidson first got permission to start operations in the country, the company on Thursday said it is setting up an Indian subsidiary and will launch the iconic motorcycle in India in 2010. Once on the roads, Harley will compete with Hayabusa and Intruder from Suzuki; CBR 1000RR Fireblade and CB 1000R from Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India; R1 and MT 01 from India Yamaha Motors, and 15 super bikes from the stable of Italy-based Ducati.

As a first step, we are looking for local dealer partners to help establish the Harley Davidson brand and our business in India for the long term, said Anoop Prakash, the newly appointed managing director of Harley Davidson in India.

Given the rapid development of Indias economy and infrastructure, this is exactly the right time to bring the worlds greatest motorcycle to one of the worlds largest motorcycling nations, said Matthew Levatich, president and COO, Harley-Davidson Motor Company.

While company officials refused to divulge details about pricing of the bikes, it is expected that these motorcycles would cost upward of Rs 7 lakh for the basic

Sportster, going up to Rs 20 lakh for customised vehicles.

In fact, Harley Davidson is relatively a late entry into the Indian market. Bikes from Suzuki Motorcycle India and India Yamaha Motors are already selling more than their set targets. Yamaha, which was the first player to launch super bikes in India in late 2007, is selling 100 units on an average of R1 and MT01, priced at Rs 10.5 lakh, in a year. Infrastructure is rapidly improving in the country and consequently the craze for racing is picking up among bike enthusiasts. This has led to a shift from celebrities to average young Indians buying our racing beauties, said Pankaj Dubey, division head (sales and marketing), India Yamaha Motors, adding that the company would soon launch its third super bike in the country next month.

Suzuki Motorcycle India is cruising ahead with Hayabusa and Intruder, launched in January this year and priced at Rs 12.5 lakh (ex-showroom). The company has sold 100 bikes till July and expects to sell another 100 units till March, said Atul Gupta, vice-president (sales and marketing), Suzuki Motorcycle India, adding that the company would launch GXR, a 1,000-cc bike, soon. As per Gupta, the demand for super bikes is gradually picking up and the total market is estimated at 400-500 units a year. KTM is also planning to enter the India market in association with Bajaj Auto.