Harley Davidson comes to India
By siliconindia | Tuesday, 20 March 2007, 05:00 Hrs
New Delhi: Harley Davidson is coming to India, and those who can afford to buy a two-wheeler worth 4 lakh are getting ready to purchase. In what is being publicized as a goodwill gesture ahead of the visit of US Trade Representative Susan Schwab in the second week of April, India's commerce ministry is in the process of issuing a law that will allow the import of Harley-Davidson motorcycles by the end of March. The company that makes the cult bikes and the US government has been lobbying India for few years. However, the ministry of shipping road transport and highways had blocked earlier attempts citing the fact that the country did not have any prescribed emission norms for motorcycles with engine capacity exceeding 500cc. The engine capacities of most Harley motorcycles exceed that. The ministry has now agreed to recognize Euro III (followed in Europe) emission norms for the motorcycles, reported a national daily. Differing to an earlier proposal that was being discussed, the commerce ministry will not place any ceiling on the number of motorcycles that can be imported. A ministry official, who did not wish to be identified, said the high price of the product and a 60 percent import duty would anyway deter mass imports. The official added, �Since the price of each of these bikes is over 2 lakh, the final cost, after taking into account an import duty of 60 percent (and various surcharges and additional duties on top of that, which results in an aggregate tariff of 103 percent) would be close to 4 lakh, at that price, people can buy a car in India,� he added. Today the cheapest car available in India costs 2 lakh; by next year, the country will have one that costs half of that, made by Tata Motors. According to the official they do not expect to sell too many motorcycles in India, who claimed the company has given the government to understand that it hope to import 2,000 of its products to India over the next three years. India�s six-million-a-year motorcycle market is dominated by fuel-efficient motorcycles with engine capacity of 100cc; these are the nation�s main mode of transport and eight out of every 10 motorcycles sold in the country is a commuter bike. Eicher Motor Ltd�s Royal Enfield division, makers of Bullet bike are the only one who makes motorcycles with engine capacities of 350cc and 500cc. Its six models are priced over at 70,000 and the company sells around 32,000 motorcycles every year. The price tag pales in comparison with the smallest of the Harleys, the 883cc powered Sportster, which retails at $6,600 ( 2.9 lakh) in the US. Eicher group CEO Siddhartha Lal said, �From a competitive standpoint, Harley�s entry will have no impact on us because we do not operate in the same segment. But it does enhance the profile of leisure motorcycling in the country and we could actually benefit,� he said. Motorcycles made by the over-a-century old Harley-Davidson Inc. are nicknamed hogs (the company founded a racing team called Wrecking Crew in 1914, and one of the racers adopted a baby pig as his mascot and called it hog).