Harley-Davidson Plans Assembly Plant in India

The plant will assemble component kits imported from the U.S.

Harley-Davidson will open an assembly plant in India next year to meet demand for its luxury two-wheelers in the country's booming economy, the company said on Nov. 2

The Indian plant will be the company's second facility outside its U.S. homebase after Brazil, said Harley-Davidson Motor, which began selling its bikes in India earlier this year.

"Given the strong response we have received in the initial months of retail operations, we believe this is the right investment for this important market," company president Matthew Levatich. "India's rapidly growing economy, rising middle class and significant investment in construction of new roads and highways are paving the way for leisure motorcycle riding."

Last month, BMW became the latest international player to announce it would begin selling motorcycles in India as it aims to grab a part of the country's surging bike market. Two-wheelers are by far the most popular form of transport in the country of 1.2 billion people.

Harley, which opened its first dealership in India in July 2010, released no sales figures, but overall two-wheeler sales leapt 26% in India between April and September from a year earlier, according to industry figures.

The Harley plant, which will assemble component kits imported from the United States, will be built in the northern Indian state of Haryana.

Harley Davidson India managing director Anoop Prakash would not say how much Milwaukee-based Harley planned to spend on the plant. However, he said that local assembly of the bikes would result in a significant drop in prices.

Harley sells bikes with engine capacities up to 1500cc that are priced between 695,000 rupees and 3.5 million rupees (US$15,660 and $79,000.) The company currently offers 12 models in its Indian lineup.

The premium bike maker has been seeking to boost sales outside the United States, where economic recovery is faltering, and says India and China are among its key overseas marketing targets.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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