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Harley unsure, Japanese rivals rev up for India
Chanchal Pal Chauhan in New Delhi | May 02, 2007 08:25 IST
Even as Harley-Davidson Company, America's cult bikemaker, re-thinks its India strategy on account of the high import duty structure, its Japanese rivals are fast closing in on plans to launch their high-end luxury bikes in India.
Despite lobbying hard for years and also getting the import clearances from the Indian government in April this year, Harley-Davidson has now cited the high (import) duty structure in India as the basic impediment in launch of its bikes in India, as it would make them very expensive.
On the other hand, Japanese bike makers such as Honda and Suzuki are already going ahead with their plans to manufacture and import high-end bikes through their Indian subsidiaries. A third player, Yamaha, has not taken a final call due to problems in its India operations.
Honda Motorcycles and Scooters India Limited, a fully owned subsidiary of Honda Motor Company, is already moving ahead with plans to manufacture bikes in the sub-500 cc category and bring in high-end (including 800 cc) bikes as completely built units through the import route.
N K Rattan, general manager, sales and marketing, HMSI told Business Standard: "We are well on course to get these super luxury bikes to India. Studies are on and in a couple of months we would decide on the models that could be introduced in India. We would import our bikes irrespective of the high customs duty structure and other impediments, provided there is demand and market for them."
The company plans to introduce two such bikes initially, which are expected to hit the market later this year or early next year.
Its arch rival, Suzuki, which already controls over 50 per cent of the passenger car market in India, also plans a foray into the super luxury bike segment."Yes, we are going to bring in our high-powered bikes, but the actual models are yet to be frozen," said Atul Gupta, vice-president, sales & marketing, Suzuki Motorcycle India Private Ltd.