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India is the world's second-largest motorcycle market but Harley-Davidson will have to compete with sales of small, inexpensive bikes.
India is the world's second-largest motorcycle market but Harley-Davidson will have to compete with sales of small, inexpensive bikes.

US motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson said it will begin selling its iconic bikes in India, pitching the "freedom of the open road" to some of the world's most densely populated cities.

A subsidiary has already been established outside New Delhi and sales are expected to begin next year, the firm said in a statement.

According to company president, Matthew Levatich, the Harley-Davidson image of "self-expression, adventure, and the freedom of the open road" will resonate as strongly in India as anywhere else in the world.

But while India is the world's second-largest motorcycle market, most sales are of small, inexpensive bikes that are better suited to the clogged streets of cities like Mumbai and Kolkata than a 1500cc Harley "Fat Boy".

India does have open roads outside the large cities but many are in a condition that makes for less than easy riding.

The market for Harleys will also be narrowed by hefty import duties that experts say could result in a price tag of around two million rupees ($48,380) - more than twice the price in the US.

Harley-Davidson CEO Keith Wandell said moving into India was part of a strategy to break into emerging markets and cited the attraction of India's rapidly growing economy and rising middle class.

"India is important to our vision of being a truly global company," Mr Wandell said.

The West Australian

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