Indian won’t follow Harley's India exit… but it might develop new model instead

Far from following Harley-Davidson's example by leaving India, Indian Motorcycles could use it as an opportunity to develop an all-new affordable model

Indian FTR 1200

It’s fair to say Indian Motorcycles has been a thorn in Harley-Davidson’s side since it was relaunched to much fanfare by Polaris Industries and while the big H-D might feel compelled to just point to sales figures as to why it still has the upper hand, it doesn’t stop the pretender to its throne lobbing a few well-aimed salvos.

Whether it’s cheeky ad campaigns or viral content, Indian wants to beat Harley at its own game and just dig the knife in a little deeper when the Milwaukee stalwarts have to fend off another bad news story of slumping sales, reorganisations or - most recently - the decision to duck out of the Indian (the country) market after only 10 years.

Indeed, while Harley-Davidson might be a tad preoccupied with its own issues - otherwise known as the ‘Rewire’ strategy -  it will likely make a note of a story on Autocar India, even if the cynic in us wonders if it is just case of doing the opposite of its rivals for publicity effort.

Either way, the interview with Polaris India manager Lalit Sharma suggests that not only is the manufacturer not planning to follow suit by withdrawing, it could actually cosy up a lot closer to the nation by launching a brand-new model aimed primarily at offering an affordable entry point for the brand.

As it stands, Indian Motorcycles do sell models in India but  it is somewhat hamstrung by the fact it doesn’t have a manufacturing base there, which inevitably drives up prices. Harley-Davidson did have a manufacturing base but it didn’t translate to encouraging people into showrooms, complaining they were still too expensive.

A brand new model from Indian Motorcycles?

Nonetheless, Indian is ploughing ahead and has recently revealed a wave of BS6 (India’s equivalent to Euro5) models will be going on sale, suggesting without a doubt it plans to stay put for the foreseeable.

More interestingly though is Indian could use Harley’s ‘tail between legs’ exit as a motivation for developing a more affordable model - ie. not a cruiser - with India being its primary target since lower displacement models rule the roost in the world’s biggest motorcycle market in terms of sales.

Autocar India reports Polaris is looking keenly at India but says it won’t make a big push until it has the machinery to do so, which it states suggests there is an idea on the drawing board. 

Seemingly an affordable model - whatever form this takes - could also make its way to Europe as it’s unlikely Indian will jump straight from its big bikes into anything sub-400cc.

Our interest is piqued...