To a lot of American workers, “outsourcing” is a dirty word. But sometimes companies have to open factories overseas just to be competitive with products built in that market. At least that’s what Harley-Davidson is hoping its flag-waving, made-in-America customer base will take into consideration when The Motor Company introduces an all-new V-twin for the Indian market––made in India, not Milwaukee.
A few unsubstantiated details were leaked by the Indian car website ZigWheels, which speculates the engine will displace somewhere between 400cc and 500cc, and that the bike will be priced competitively with the Indian-market Kawasaki Ninja 250R, Hyosung GT250R, and KTM 390 Duke.
Harley has been assembling Milwaukee-made Big Twins from complete knock down kits (CKD) in India since 2011. Assembling the bikes there gives H-D a break from import taxes as high as 100 percent. The plant in the northern Indian state of Haryana is Harley’s second CKD facility outside the U.S, after its first in Brazil.
A CKD kit consists of the major components of a motorcycle––engine, frame, wheels––packaged and shipped separately for assembly at another location. The CKD models coming out of India and Brazil are still manufactured in the U.S., but the proposed Indian Harley will be manufactured and assembled entirely in India, and available for sale nowhere else.
India is second only to China in the recent growth of its two-wheel market. Harley wisely wants to get a foothold there and in other emerging Asian markets, but it’s been tough sledding with the large, expensive models that account for the bulk of its sales in the U.S. If the as-yet-unnamed Indian Harley accomplishes that goal, there’s speculation that H-D could shift some of its R&D focus to smaller, lighter bikes that riders who want to buy American, but are put off by the size and price of many Harleys, have been asking for. Whether those bikes would be offered for sale here in the U.S., should they become a reality, is unknown.