Harley-Davidson announced it is partnering with Chinese manufacturer Qianjiang Motorcycle Company to develop a 338cc model for China and other Asian markets. The move is part of the company’s “More Roads to Harley-Davidson” strategy announced last July for expanding its reach. In this case, Harley-Davidson is targeting Asia’s premium motorcycle market.
When Harley announced its “More Roads” plan, it said it would be partnering with an Asian partner. The assumption at the time would be the partner would be a manufacturer from India, where competitors like BMW and KTM have formed relationships with TVS and Bajaj, respectively. Instead, Harley-Davidson says it is partnering with China’s Qianjiang because of its experience developing premium small displacement models, its established supply network and its proven capability in emerging markets. The Qianjiang brand isn’t as well known here in North America, though some may be familiar with it as the current owner of Benelli and manufacturer of the TNT135 and the TNT600.
“Harley-Davidson has always been about inspiring riders around the world. Our More Roads plan is all about bringing our brand of freedom to more people, in more places, in more ways,” said Matt Levatich, President and Chief Executive Officer, Harley-Davidson. “We’re excited about this opportunity to build more Harley riders in China, one of the world’s largest motorcycle markets, by creating new pathways to our brand.”
The new model and its engine will be manufactured in a Qianjiang-owned facility in China and Harley-Davidson says it will “embody a distinctive look, sound and feel that will spark powerful connections with riders.”
Harley-Davidson did not provide specific technical details about the new model beyond the 338cc displacement. Supplied renderings of the proposed model appear to show a trellis frame, swingarm, suspension and engine similar to those used on the Benelli TNT300 (pictured below). The Benelli runs on a liquid-cooled four-valve DOHC 300cc parallel Twin, and if the renderings are a true indication, we should expect he new Harley model to be similar, but with the larger displacement. If the new model does carry on most of the elements of the Benelli TNT300, then much of the development would already be complete.
Harley-Davidson says the new small-displacement model will launch in China in 2020, with expansion to other Asian markets to follow. There’s no indication if Harley-Davidson plans to offer it to other markets.