Harley-Davidson inks deal to build small motorcycles in China

Harley-Davidson has struck a partnership to start making a small motorcycle in China for sale in the country

Harley-Davidson has struck a partnership to start making a small motorcycle in China for sale in the country

"Harley-Davidson has always been about inspiring riders around the world". According to Harley, it will be introduced elsewhere in Asia after the initial launch in China.

Harley-Davidson will partner with China's Qianjiang Motorcycle Co to produce a new smaller bike, making good on promises to build more motorcycles outside the United States, moves that have angered President Donald Trump.

Even if it will be made in China, the Americans say the new bike will keep true to the "rigorous quality standards and testing processes", that have shaped recent motorcycles.

Harley's existing range of motorcycles are generally far larger and come with high price tags and engine capacities of more than 601 cubic centimeters. They haven't said how much the motorcycles will cost, but Craig Kennison, an analyst with brokerage firm Baird, told Reuters affordability has been an issue for first-time Harley riders.

President Trump a year ago threatened Harley with higher taxes in response to its plans to move production for European customers overseas, part of the company's strategy for dealing with falling sales in its home market and increased costs due to higher trade tariffs.

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The new bike will have an engine displacement of 338 cubic centimeters, which is one of the smallest in the company's 116-year history.

"The global motorcycle market is huge, but Harley-Davidson has not been able to penetrate it with large/expensive bikes", said Craig Kennison, an analyst with brokerage Baird. He later said he also supported plans to boycott the company if it moved its manufacturing overseas.

At the end of May, reports surfaced and claimed that Harley-Davidson was working on a small, low-priced motorcycle specifically to cater to Asian markets, a place where the bike manufacturer's foothold isn't exactly strong. As of Wednesday afternoon, he has not yet responded to news of the expansion to China.

Here's a rendering of what to expect from Harley-Davidson's Chinese-market motorcycle.

"We have proven manufacturing capability and experience in China, and we are committed to improving the experience of motorcycling for riders in Asia", he said.

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