But the Harley Davidson X440 is actually made by a local manufacturer, and it’s not available in the U.S. either
August 10, 2023 at 18:00
Think Harley Davidson, and you’ll most likely have visions of large-framed, no-nonsense bikes with meaty exhaust notes, fat wheels, and V-Twin engines. What you may not think of is single-cylinder machines that could easily be mistaken for a run-of-the-mill commuter bike commonly found in developing nations. But that’s precisely what the latest cycle to bear the Harley Davidson nameplate is. And it’s selling like hotcakes.
It comes three years after Harley Davidson shuttered their wholly-owned Indian branch due to weak demand and slow sales — that too in the world’s largest market for two-wheelers. The decision cost the company $75 million in restructuring costs, including the closure of a plant in the north of the country.
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But the X440, a 400cc single-cylinder scrambler-esque bike, has exceeded all expectations, with over 25,000 bookings locked in. It would seem Harley has learned from its earlier failings. At the time of the company’s exit in 2020, auto experts were quick to point out that, in the high-volume low-markup Indian market, tying up with local players would have yielded the best results.
This time around the X440 is developed, distributed, and manufactured by home player Hero Motorcorp, using the Harley Davidson name under license. It’s a low-risk strategy that is in stark contrast to Harley’s previous approach, whereby the American company designed and manufactured a bike specifically for the Indian market. It also echoes similar arrangements between Triumph and Bajaj, KTM and Bajaj, and BMW and TVS.
Reuters reports that, off the back of the strong bookings announcement, Hero’s share price rose by 3 percent. The X440 is priced at a starting of INR 239,500 ($2,890 at the current exchange rate), while 65 percent of bookings were made for the dearest option, which comes in at INR 279,500 ($3,370). Production will begin in September, with deliveries commencing in October.
Sadly for those in the United States hoping for a cheap entry into the HOG lifestyle, the X440 is only available in India, with no plans for export. But would an entry-level model with the Harley Davidson name work stateside, or is it best kept off our shores?