Iconic American motorcycle brand Harley-Davidson today introduced three new motorcycles in the country, expanding its Softail range and updating its line-up with MY2018 offerings.
The company introduced the 2018 Low Rider and the Deluxe, which come priced at Rs 1,299,000 and Rs 1,799,000 (ex-showroom Delhi) and get majorly overhauled with a completely redesigned chassis, which has been re-built from the ground-up.
The new chassis now becomes up to 20 percent lighter and around 34 percent stiffer, which is achieved by the use of high stiffness carbon steel in the construction of the tubular frame. While the motorcycles see around 50 percent reduction in component parts and close to 22 percent reduction in the number of welds, the overall weight reduction is to the tune of 17kg, all to aid better riding dynamics and to get quicker acceleration response from the engine.
The 2018 Harley-Davidson Low Rider gets a single-unit circular full-LED headlamp cluster, 16-inch chrome alloy wheels and a monoshock suspension at the rear, which gets concealed under the seat, unlike the outgoing model’s exposed rear shock absorbers. The Deluxe, which is being introduced in India for the first time, gets a more classic look with its multi-spoke wheels, pull-back handlebars and white painted tyre side walls, completing the retro theme.
Both, the Harley-Davidson Low Rider as well as the Deluxe come powered by what is christened as the Milwaukee Eight – 107 motor, in Harley-speak. The engine is a 1,746cc V-Twin unit, with the cylinders being 45-degree apart from each other. The motor gets a single camshaft architecture and comes with dual internal counter-balancers to minimise operational vibrations.
Celebrating 115 years
The iconic marque has turned over a century old and is known for having spawned a dedicated leisure riding culture across the globe. In lieu of bringing the celebration to its customers, the company also introduced a limited edition model of its legendary Fat Boy in the country today, pricing it at Rs 1,979,000 ex-showroom, Delhi. The special version of the Fat Boy gets a bigger 1,868cc Milwaukee Eight – 114 engine, which replaces the 107 on the regular Fat Boy. The new heart produces 161.3Nm of torque from the V-Twin engine layout.
Speaking at the launch, Peter MacKenzie, managing director, Harley Davidson, India and China, said, “The leisure riding segment is evolving across the world and so in India. The four 2018 Softail models that we introduced in October last year have received good response and with the Low Rider and the Deluxe, we now complete updating our portfolio in India with the latest products. We also turn 115 years old and as a result, the Fat Boy limited edition is an attempt to cherish our journey with our customers.”
CBU prices slashed
Harley-Davidson India imports four of its entire product offerings in the country via the CBU route. With the reduction in customs duty on high-end completely assembled motorcycles from the earlier prevalent 75 percent to 50 percent in the Union Budget, the company has passed on the entire benefit to its customers immediately.
As a result, its Road King gets cheaper by Rs 338,000, to now be priced at Rs 2,499,000. The Street Glide Special sees a massive price cut of Rs 551,000 to retail at Rs 2,999,000. The Harley Davidson Road Glide Special, which was earlier priced at Rs 3,561,000 will now retail at Rs 3,299,000 and its CVO Limited will be priced at Rs 4,999,000, against the Rs 5,372,000 ex-showroom, Delhi retail price tag before the custom duty revision.
While the government had also increased the customs duty on CKD imports by 5 percent in the Budget, according to Peter MacKenzie, “In order to shield our customers, we are going to retain the older prices on such products until the end of FY2018, and only then, we would pass the impact forward.”
Harley-Davidson has been going through a rough patch, with its sales in CY2017 dwindling across markets. While the Q4 numbers for Asia Pacific region were down 11.8 percent at 7,720 units, the brand posted slow sales of 30,348 units (-7.7%) in the region for the complete calendar, with its global sales standing at 242,788 units (CY2016: 260,289 / -6.7%). Its sales at the home turf in the US also went declining with 147,972 units in CY2017 (CY2016: 161,658 / -8.5%).
According to Peter MacKenzie, “Each market is uniquely different and while there has been a decline in some of our key markets, economic conditions are bigger than our brand, and we have to work within the respective economic frameworks of each of those markets.”
“Being more accessible and more relevant is what we target for CY2018 and we will be working towards this goal. There is more that we could do in that area. Alongside, we will continue to make sure that we bring in new and cutting-edge products, which is also paramount to future growth.
“Our focus would also be on developing the next generation of Harley-Davidson riders. I think a large portion of clients that we see are from the ageing population in some of the established markets. We would aim to include more younger demographic into the Harley riding fraternity.
“India, by nature, has a younger demographic and we would continue to try and appeal to that audience”, he added.
The company is working on the accessibility challenge by offering financial assistance to its customers with the Harley-Davidson Financial Services arm, and also enhancing its number of retail outlets, which currently stand at 26 dealers across the country. CY2018 will see a couple of more outlets being opened to increase its outreach.
On the other hand, its Street 500, which has been developed in India and is based on the Street 750, which is sold as the entry-level offering in the Indian market, is not going to be introduced here. “The Street 500 is entirely based on the Street 750 and gets no cost benefits owing to mere lower engine displacement. It is being shipped from India to Australia and Indonesia, where the 750 would not have fit in due to displacement rules in those markets”, MacKenzie said.
All-electric Harley-Davidson by 2019
Speaking on the developmental progress on the LiveWire electric concept showcased in 2014, Peter MacKenzie said, “We would be ready with the first electric product based on the concept within the next 18 months.”
“We will eventually start introducing the motorcycle in markets which have started gearing up with the electric mobility infrastructure,” MacKenzie concluded.