Harley-Davidson has announced an agreement to produce small-capacity motorcycles for overseas markets, Asia in particular, in conjunction with Chinese manufacturer Qianjiang.
Rumours of this deal have been floating around for several weeks now, ever since Harley-Davidson CEO Matt Levatich basically confirmed it in a phone call with investors. But the particulars remained a mystery until now.
The Harley-Davidson announcement (below) starts by announcing the partnership as a way to build a “smaller, more accessible Harley-Davidson motorcycle for sale in Harley-Davidson dealerships in China by the end of 2020.” Other Asian markets will follow.
Although most people expected a 250 cc motorcycle as the result of this partnership, the press release says the resultant bike will be a “premium 338cc displacement Harley-Davidson motorcycle.” The bike and its engine will be built at Qianjiang’s Chinese facilities. Harley-Davidson says it will be subjected to the same testing and quality assurance procedures as its other products.
Harley-Davidson has released a sketch showing what the motorcycle will roughly look like, seen above and below. It’s a naked roadster, a far cry from the usual cruiser formula Harley-Davidson’s known for, and seems to be powered by a parallel twin engine.
The official press announcement is below.
HARLEY-DAVIDSON TO BUILD RIDERS BY EXPANDING ACCESS IN ASIA WITH SMALL DISPLACEMENT MOTORCYCLE
June 19, 2019
Harley-Davidson, Inc. (“Harley-Davidson”) (NYSE:HOG) today announced another step in its strategy to build more riders globally and expand access into Asia through a collaboration with Qianjiang Motorcycle Company Limited (“Qianjiang”) to launch a smaller, more accessible Harley-Davidson motorcycle for sale in Harley-Davidson dealerships in China by the end of 2020.
This collaboration joins Harley-Davidson’s global motorcycle leadership with the capabilities of Qianjiang to co-develop a premium 338cc displacement Harley-Davidson motorcycle for sale first in the China market with additional Asian markets to follow. Harley-Davidson selected Qianjiang based on its experience developing premium small displacement motorcycles, established supply base, proven capabilities in emerging markets, and ability to meet consumer requirements.
“Harley-Davidson has always been about inspiring riders around the world. Our More Roads plan is all about bringing our brand of freedom to more people, in more places, in more ways,” said Matt Levatich, President and Chief Executive Officer, Harley-Davidson. “We’re excited about this opportunity to build more Harley riders in China, one of the world’s largest motorcycle markets, by creating new pathways to our brand.”
This collaboration marks significant progress toward another major milestone in the More Roads to Harley-Davidson accelerated plan for growth. It is intended to expand access to the Harley-Davidson brand to more riders to drive incremental sales – both of the new small displacement motorcycle and also of traditional Harley-Davidson products currently offered in Asia. Continuing to capitalize on growth opportunities in Asia is key to the company achieving its 2027 objective to grow its international business to 50 percent of annual volume.
Like all Harley-Davidson products, this new model will embody a distinctive look, sound and feel that will spark powerful connections with riders. The new Harley-Davidson motorcycle and engine will be produced in a Qianjiang facility in China and adhere to the rigorous quality standards and testing processes followed for all Harley-Davidson products.
“We are pleased to collaborate with Harley-Davidson,” said Mr. Dongshao GUO, General Manager, Qianjiang. “We have proven manufacturing capability and experience in China, and we are committed to improving the experience of motorcycling for riders in Asia.”
With its expanding middle class and increased consumer spending on discretionary, premium products, China is a key growth market for Harley-Davidson. Since it announced its More Roads plan in July 2018, Harley-Davidson has continued to advance its efforts to grow riders in China by expanding its dealer network in China and investing in marketing, eCommerce and product availability. Harley-Davidson retail sales in China grew 27 percent in 2018 compared to 2017.