New Delhi: Harley-Davidson Inc. plans to launch motorcycles in the small and mid-sized segment as it unveiled a major change in its strategy to target young buyers in emerging markets such as India and China. This puts it the US-based company, famed for its cruiser-style of motorcycles, in direct competition with Eicher Motors-owned Royal Enfield—the market leader in the 200-500cc motorcycle segment in India.

And similar to Bajaj-KTM, Bajaj-Triumph and BMW-TVS partnerships, Harley-Davidson also plans to forge a strategic alliance with another motorcycle maker to develop and sell these motorcycles.

Harley’s planned entry into the market for small and mid-capacity motorcycles is aimed at expanding its customer base and to drive growth in India, one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing motorcycle markets, as well as other Asian markets.

“The bold actions we are announcing today leverage Harley-Davidson’s vast capabilities and competitive firepower—our excellence in product development and manufacturing, the global appeal of the brand and of course, our great dealer network," said Matt Levatich, president and chief executive officer, Harley-Davidson. “Alongside our existing loyal riders, we will lead the next revolution of two-wheeled freedom to inspire future riders who have yet to even think about the thrill of riding," he said.

Harley-Davidson’s plans are expected to intensify competition for Eicher Motors Ltd’s Royal Enfield, which is a segment leader and has almost no competition as yet in the domestic market.

Last year, Bajaj Auto and British motorcycle maker Triumph Motorcycles announced their plans to make mid-capacity motorcycles. The Chakan, Pune-based bikemaker already has a tie-up with Austrian bikemaker KTM.

Earlier this month, BMW introduced two 313cc motorcycles—its smallest bikes ever-built—under a technology partnership with TVS Motor Co to. develop sub-500cc bikes in India.

Royal Enfield meanwhile continues to hold market dominance, fuelled by rising disposable incomes. In 2016, Bajaj introduced Dominar to take on Royal Enfield but it could not make any major impact.

“Our plan will redefine existing boundaries of our brand—reaching more customers in a way that reinforces all we stand for as a brand and as a company and we can’t wait to kick it into gear," said Levatich.

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