Harley-Davidson partners with QianJiang of China to manufacture 383 cc Asia-market motorcycles

Fighting an ageing rider demographic as well as reduced purchasing power in many motorcycle markets, Harley-Davidson (H-D) is said to be entering into a partnership with with QianJiang of China, part of the Geely manufacturing group. The collaboration is for the production of a 383 cc motorcycle which will enter the market in 2020, the smallest capacity motorcycle it has made in modern times since the 500 cc Street Rod.

With a plans to sell up to half its motorcycle production overseas by the year 2027, an 8% increase of 2018’s 42% target, H-D intends to leverage on QianJiang’s expertise in small motorcycle production and emerging markets. Intended to be sold in the China market, the small displacement H-D will be the only H-D motorcycle made in a plant not under its direct control.

H-D currently has overseas plants in Brazil, India, Australia, and Thailand with the Thailand plant producing not only H-D motorcycles for the region but also Europe. This is in a bid to beat the tariffs introduced by the EU in response to import tariffs on steel and aluminium imposed by the Trump administration in the US.

As reported in The Wall Street Journal, H-D expects small displacement motorcycle market growth to increase by 6% between 2017 and 2022, with a corresponding decline in motorcycle sales in the US domestic market. Despite criticism from Trump that H-D is moving job abroad to the detriment of US manufacturing, H-D will continue motorcycles for the US market in its traditional US works.

An ambitious plan to introduce 100 new motorcycle models leading up to 2022 as well as the introduction of a new engine, the Milwaukee 8 V-twin and an electric bike, the Livewire. Geely Automobile of China currently owns Volvo, is in a strategic partnership with Malaysian car manufacturer Proton and has a 9.7% stake in Daimler.

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