Harley Davidson launched the X350 and X500 single cylinder engine motorcycles in China recently with muted fanfare however it appears that sales of the two bikes that Harley Davidson is producing with domestic manufacturer QJ Motor are not as strong as would have been hoped.
The second quarter results from H-D will be released on the 27th July and only at this stage will we get any confirmed indication of how sales have progressed in China and perhaps where extrapolations can be made for the X350 and X500 sales data.
However unconfirmed reports in China allegedly would site the higher than average prices of the X350 and X500 along with stiff competition from domestic motorcycle models which are very similar in design and performance as the greatest stumbling block.
Already comparisons are being made between both models and Chinese branded bikes, which are most favourable for potential buyers and where most sales would be generated…and in part Harley Davidson only have themselves to blame.
Chinese manufacturers have long been accused of cloning western branded bikes for their own markets. Harley Davidson bikes have likely been copied more than most but the questionable tactic is also being carried out by the same company that is also producing the X350 and X500.
QJ Motor along with other Chinese manufacturers often produce similar bikes to each other and share data and designs as they operate in an almost hive like mindset and ecosystem all for the betterment of China.
This in itself isn’t a particular problem, however it is problematic where a company is trying to sell premium priced motorcycles in a market that is pumping out cheaper competitive bike, some of which are coming from the same source manufacturer.
It was and still is noticeable how quiet Harley-Davidson have been about the X350 and X500 and their Chinese partnership. Perhaps this has been another field test of sorts for the company. To see if they could get a foothold in a huge motorcycling market as yet untapped by western manufacturers. If they succeed all is well, however if they fail then it will likely go under the radar.
The ‘Chinese Baby Harleys’ could be successful for the company but likely less so in markets outside of China and even more so in the USA. Perhaps Europe could offer a home to these small displacement engine bikes as they are perceived as more suitable to European roads. However similar Chinese models under European brand names such as Benelli are not exactly huge sellers in Europe either.
So Harley Davidson faces competition from within and poor horizons in other markets too. The decision to go into partnership with a Chinese manufacturer was their only choice to avoid import tariffs and trade restrictions, however it could be this relationship favours the Chinese QJ Motor rather than the American Harley Davidson.