Harley-Davidson Entering the Chinese Market

Harley-Davidson has just signed a deal with Zhejiang Qianjiang Motorcycle Co. Ltd. They are planning to co-develop a small motorcycle to be launched by 2020 into the Chinese market.

Initially Only for the Chinese Market

During May, it became evident that Harley-Davidson is developing an inexpensive, small bike specially designed for the Asian market. This is new territory for the company since it is not where their stronghold in the marketplace is based. These plans were confirmed with making the deal public between the two companies. This contract is the beginning of a partnership between the two companies to develop a 338cc displacement bike for the Chinese marketplace. It will, later on, be expanded to other Asian markets as well, including India. For now, there is no indication that it will be sold in the United States as well. The motorcycle will be Chinese built with both the engine and the bike being manufactured by Qianjiang at their factory in Wenling.

Zhejiang Qianjiang Motorcycle Co. Ltd

The company which has been founded in 1985 is a subsidiary of the Geely Technology Group. The company has always been involved in motorcycles and motorcycle engines from research and development to manufacturing and sales. Their focus increased when they acquired the Italian motorcycle manufacturer, Benelli in 2005. Benelli came with more than 100-years of motorcycle manufacturing experience.

Harley-Davidson Expanding

In 2018 Harley-Davidson made it public that they want to build more riders internationally. In line with this intention, they have expanded their networks in China through dealerships. This also meant product supply, marketing and e-commerce into the Chinese market. This resulted in them improving their retail sales in China, with 27% from 2017 to 2018. Their plans to take more production outside of the United States were cause for some critique from the presidential side, which is continuously aiming at keeping production based on local US soil. They also had to deal with a hike in European import tax, which has risen from 6% to 31%. This meant that Harley-Davidson had to take a knock on the chin of roughly $2 000 per bike. Their solution to this was to increase manufacturing at overseas facilities.

The Bike

The question that most avid Harley fans have is what would this bike look like? It is expected to be much different than the globally recognized image of the brand. The bike hasn’t been named yet, but it will for sure stand out. The look, the feel and the sound will be very distinctive yet suitable for the Chinese market. This is a massive market in the motorcycle industry and a market which can’t be ignored by a manufacturer like Harley-Davidson.

CEO of Harley-Davidson, Matt Levatich, stated that the idea behind their More Roads plan is to provide more people access to freedom. They want to do this by bringing the brand to more people living in more places, while they remain inspirational to all riders globally.

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