Harley Davidson, like many motorcycle manufacturers right now are seeing a bumper response to the woes of the pandemic onset period, however they are only just recently starting to match pre pandemic sales and revenue figures with the company having been in a decline for a number of years.
Whilst there is renewed interest in the Revolution Max liquid cooled powered motorcycles such that the recently released Pan America and the Sportster S, there is still continued bewilderment at why the American does not have an entry level motorcycle and one that’s cost base is low enough to compete with foreign brands in Asia and Inida.
It was for this reason that H-D had to pull out of India as the main brand because their cost point was way above what even the wealthier public would like to spend or even could afford. The company have now teamed up with Hero in India to sell branded bikes and this leads the way for the company to produce a small displacement engine motorcycle that would suit the masses in those eastern markets but also would be ideal entry level bikes for the cash strapped next generation of the West.
There had been strong indication that H-D were going to produce the 338 in conjunction with a Chinese manufacturer but that appears to have fallen by the wayside since and the new Hardwire direction might make this a non starter as well.
However market analysts and Joe public would tend to agree that having a gateway bike leads to bigger addictions later in life when the wallets are swollen as well as the waist lines.
However with Hero Motor Corp operating model to build badged branded bikes for that market, H-D also have a similar prior understanding with QJ Motor of China who have developed the mini cruiser; SRV300 with a 298cc V-Twin engine capable of 80mph. If manufacturing could be made to a specific standard to suit Western appetites and match Eastern unit price points, then this could give H-D the opportunity to enter markets yet exploited and help their bottom line…which would make the stakeholders and stock analysts very happy indeed.
Perhaps Harley Davidson are suffering with a clash of cultures or project visions right now. Perhaps under current CEO Jochen Zeitz, the focus is on the prestige and the premium rather than the everyman access that the More Roads program under former CEO Matt Levatich was more concerned with.
Could they have the willpower and stomach to enter an Indian or Chinese market with stiff competition to produce small displacement bikes at affordable prices and also bring those bikes to Europe and the US? Could they be adventurous as Triumph appear to have been recently with their announcement that they are also moving into the MX and Enduro markets too? Perhaps that is a step too far for now but by opening themselves up to the possibility of mass producing smaller bikes just as they did when they assimilated Italian manufacturer Aermacchi and then later became the AMF era too. They have done it before, but perhaps this time they could do it again and get the quality to match the undoubted global demand that derives from the multi role small single/twin cylinder marketplace.