Harley-Davidson Rides Into India

Price tag could be $40K, twice the price in the U.S. due to import duties

Harley-Davidson said on August 27 it will begin selling its iconic bikes in India, pitching the "freedom of the open road" to some of the world's most densely populated cities.

A subsidiary has already been established outside New Delhi and sales are expected to begin next year.

According to company president Matthew Levatich, the Harley-Davidson image of "self-expression, adventure, and the freedom of the open road" will resonate as strongly in India as anywhere else in the world.

But while India is the world's second-largest motorcycle market, most sales are of small, inexpensive bikes that are better suited to the clogged streets of cities like Mumbai and Kolkota than a 1500cc Harley "Fat Boy."

India does have open roads outside the large cities but many are in a condition that make for less than easy riding.

The market for Harleys will also be narrowed by hefty import duties that experts say could result in a price tag of around two million rupees (US$40,000) -- more than twice the price in the United States.

Harley-Davidson CEO Keith Wandell said moving into India was part of a strategy to break into emerging markets and cited the attraction of India's rapidly growing economy and rising middle class.

"India is important to our vision of being a truly global company," Wandell said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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