American bike maker Harley Davidson announced earlier in 2019 that they are going to partner with an Asian manufacturer for producing their upcoming entry-level motorcycles. Many speculated that an Indian company might be the preferred choice for the partnership but now we know already that Harley has signed an agreement with Chinese bike maker, Zhejiang Qianjiang to produce its low-cost bikes. Just so you know, Zhejiang Qianjiang owns the Benelli and Volvo’s owner Geely is a majority stakeholder in Zhejiang Qianjiang.
Recent news suggests that Harley has filed for a name trademark with a 338R. The motorcycle might not make it to the USA but it ready for the rest of the world. We know the bike is mainly for emerging markets. Indian market could be like the USA where this model will not make it, but since this is all new at Harley and a developing story, who knows.
The first product of the American Chinese partnership will manifest in the form of the launch of a low-cost, 338 cc motorcycle. The bike might be christened Street 350 and will sit below the likes of Street 750 and Street 500 in the model range. The bike will get a launch in the Chinese market first in 2020 and subsequently will reach other countries like India, the Philippines, Japan, Australia, and Vietnam among others.
Street 350 will draw power from a single-cylinder engine capable of putting out performance somewhere around 30 PS and 30 Nm. For the Indian market, Street 350 is expected to be manufactured at the company’s existing facility in Haryana where other models like Street 750 and Street 500 are being produced. This will help Harley-Davidson to keep the cost in check and launch the bike at a competitive price.
Despite the criticism from the Harley-Davidson owners worldwide that the company should not launch low-cost motorcycles, the American bike maker will plan to enter the budget segment with Street 350. Harley has defied its criticism already with the launch of Pan America motorcycle launch. A motorcycle in the entire range of hardcore cruisers is already doing rather well for the company. The primary reason behind Pan America and 3388R strategy is simply the falling sales which has forced company Harley to rethink its only premium-bike strategy. Its competitors are gaining ground owing to the presence of small capacity, entry-level bikes and now it seems Harley Davidson also has taken the same path.