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November 9th, 2010
Harley-Davidson To Add Assembly Plant

Nov 03, 2010 (York Daily Record - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --

Harley-Davidson plans to open a plant not on U.S. soil but in the burgeoning motorcycle market of India, the company said Tuesday.

An operation in the Indian state of Haryana that will assemble Harley motorcycles from component kits supplied by U.S. manufacturers will kick-start in the first half of 2011.

It's the second Harley assembly plant to open outside the U.S.; the first opened in Brazil in 1999.

The new plant is "a natural next step for Harley-Davidson as we build our brand presence around the world," Matthew S. Levatich, president and chief operating officer, said in a release.

Initially, the Indian operation will mean little to Harley's operations in Springettsbury Township, spokesman Bob Klein said. Only Sportster motorcycles will be assembled there. The local factory, which produces mostly Softail and Touring models, will still ship its product to India fully assembled.  

With American consumers on the ropes, Harley is pumping resources into emerging markets, attempting to set up dealer networks in China and India. The company also announced last week at its analyst presentation that it planned to cut costs by assembling some bikes in India to sell in that country. But taste in motorcycles doesn't always transcend borders Europeans, for instance, are generally more partial to performance bikes than touring bikes, Gorham notes.

Although their initial reaction has been positive, Indian and Chinese consumers may take a pass on the big burly American style. The countries' import policies could also stymie Harley's efforts.
However, "as we gain more traction, it could lead to more opportunity" for the York County facility, Klein said. That means, if all goes well, the York County plant, in addition to building fully assembled bikes, could also build kits for assembly in India, Klein said.

In the short term, the move will reduce tariffs on motorcycles, Levatich said, which the company hopes will help draw stronger sales in India, where the company opened four dealerships in 2010.

"India's rapidly growing economy, rising middle class and significant investment in construction of new roads and highways are paving the way for leisure motorcycle riding," Levatich said.

Already in India; Harley opened four dealerships in India in 2010.

They are in:
--New Delhi




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