'Indian' bikes hit Indian shores, with Harley in cross-hairs
Harley Davidson has competition from back home. Its ‘country cousin’ Indian has landed on Indian shores.
Indian, a US bike brand dating back to 1901, on Wednesday launched its luxury cruiser bikes at an event in the Capital. “Choice is here, finally,” said Ross Clifford, director, Motorcycles International, Polaris.
“India is one of the fastest growing markets for big bikes,” said Clifford. “Indian is here today, and Indian will be here to stay,” he said.
The company has brought all its models --- the Indian Chief Classic, Indian Chief Vintage and Indian Chieftain, which will be imported as completely built units. The Classic is priced at Rs 26.5 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the Vintage at Rs 29.5 lakh and the Chieftain at Rs 33 lakh, said Pankaj Dubey, MD, Polaris India.
“We launched the marquee bikes in the US early last year and were appreciated immensely for reviving history,” Dubey said.
The three bikes will be powered by a common “Thunderstroke 111” engine – called One-eleven (referring to 111 cubic inches or 1,811 cubic centimetres (cc), the bore capacity of the V-twin engine) – that generates 139 Nm of torque at 2,600 rpm.Rival Harley’s biggest engine is 1,690 cc, which produceds 138 Nm of torque. Top-of-the-line Street Glide model starts at Rs 29 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).
Interestingly, this launch comes at a time when Harley is looking to tap the youth, and last week launched the Street 750, powered by a 750-cc engine, expected to be priced at about Rs 5 lakh. An even smaller and lower-priced Street 500 is set for launch next year.
Indian’s first showroom is coming up in Delhi, and the next one will be in Bangalore. Bike deliveries will begin mid-March, Dubey said. The holding company, Polaris, has 25 dealerships and 50 ‘touch-points’ over the country; expansion is expected to happen rapidly.
Harley Davidson is the leader by far in the 1,600-cc plus cruiser segment, with a 74% market-share last year, according to auto industry body SIAM. The other player is Suzuki, which has 26%.
That equation is set to see change with the Indian launch, and British icon Triumph’s two cruisers, the 1,800-cc Thunderbird Storm and the humungous 2,300-cc Rocket-3 Roadster, priced at Rs 13 lakh and Rs 20 lakh respectively.
The run-up to the Delhi Auto Expo is seeing a stream of launches. Japanese bikemaker Kawasaki launched its second ‘naked’ bike in India on Tuesday, the Z800, priced at Rs 8.05 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). It had launched the Z1000 in December, priced at Rs 12.5 lakh.
Started making bikes in 1901
Died out and revived several times
Rival Harley started making bikes in 1903, and edged out Indian as No 1 US bike-maker in 1920
‘Indian’ refers to Red Indian
The company’s signature is the visage of an Indian tribal chief
‘111’ or One-Eleven refers to the engine’s bore: 111 cubic inches