Harley-Davidson Opens First Indian Dealership

Moving into India is part of the company's strategy to break into emerging markets as its customers in developed markets are aging.

As it pitches the "freedom of the open road" in a nation with some of the world's most congested traffic, Harley-Davidson has launched its first Indian dealership, the company said on July 10.

Harley-Davidson, the iconic heavyweight motorcycle maker, launched its first outlet in the southern city of Hyderabad on July 9 and plans to open more across the country, the company said.

"We look forward to initiating a new era of motorcycling," said Anoop Prakash, managing director of Harley-Davidson India.

The Milwaukee-based company, whose brand was made famous in the movie "Easy Rider", is using the slogan "Hear the Roar!".

Prakash said the bike is well suited for Indian roads due to its weight and hulking design, adding that the company plans to launch in other cities before the end of the year, including capital New Delhi and financial hub Mumbai.

But while India is the world's second-largest motorcycle market, most sales are of small, inexpensive bikes that can weave through traffic in India's clogged cities easier than a 1500cc Harley "Fat Boy."

India does have open roads outside the large cities but many are potholed and make for less than easy riding.

The bikes, which loyal riders affectionately nickname Hogs, are made in the United States and shipped to India where they face hefty custom duties.

The cost of the bikes in India start at 695,000 rupees (US$14,917) and range up to 3,495,000 rupees, said a spokeswoman.

Moving into India is part of Harley Davidson's strategy to break into emerging markets as its customers in developed markets are aging.

The company, which cites the lure of India's rapidly growing economy and rising middle class, is launching 12 variants of the bikes in the country.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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