Harley-Davidson, Inc. announced plans to develop a new, low-displacement model to be offered in China by the end of 2020, and possibly the rest of Asia. That new model is a 338cc, water-cooled, parallel twin scrambler to be co-developed with Qianjiang Motorcycle Company Limited.
This confirms our previous story where we speculated Harley will create a sub-500cc motorcycle for Asia. Unlike our original hypothesis, however, its Asian partner will be from China rather than India.
Harley-Davidson and Qianjiang plan to co-develop a premium 338cc displacement Harley-Davidson motorcycle for sale first in the China market with additional Asian markets to follow. Harley-Davidson selected Qianjiang based on its experience developing premium small displacement motorcycles, established supply base, proven capabilities in emerging markets, and ability to meet consumer requirements.
This collaboration marks significant progress toward another major milestone in the More Roads to Harley-Davidson accelerated plan for growth. This plan hopes to grow Harley’s international business to 50 percent of annual volume by 2027. Harley-Davidson hopes this will bring more customers to the brand and increase its overall sales, both in new small displacement models and also of traditional Harley-Davidson products currently offered in Asia.
“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.”
“We are pleased to collaborate with Harley-Davidson,” said Mr. Dongshao GUO, General Manager, Qianjiang. “We have proven manufacturing capability and experience in China, and we are committed to improving the experience of motorcycling for riders in Asia.”
The upcoming new model will be produced in a Qianjiang facility in China and adhere to the rigorous quality standards and testing processes followed for all Harley-Davidson products.
Some of you may be familiar with Qianjiang Motorcycle Company Limited. The company purchased Benelli in 2005 and has revived the brand with new products and grown its distribution to new markets throughout the world, most recently being the Philippines.
Other brands the company manufactures include Qijiang, Generic, Keeway, and KSR motorcycles and scooters. The company also makes ATVs and minibikes. It’s also a subsidiary of China’s largest automotive company, Geely — which currently also owns Volvo, Polestar, and half of Daimler’s Smart brand. Geely also has controlling interest in Proton and Lotus automobiles. Geely’s original automotive brand, Lynk & Co, hopes to challenge Tesla in the electric car market.
With Qianjiang’s involvement in the new Harley-Davidson model, and close examination of Harley-Davidson’s rendering of the upcoming model, it appears to be heavily based on QJ Benelli’s current scrambler offering, the TNT300. While the TNT300 has an engine that’s exactly 300cc, it’s very easy to bore up. In addition, the new TNT300’s trellis frame looks very similar to the Harley render, right up to the higher rear swing-arm shock mount.
Since many of Benelli’s bikes share common platforms and engines, another model Harley plans to offer in the future, an adventure bike, could be based on another one of Benelli’s offerings, the TRK502. Of course, this is all just speculation. However, this new partnership with Qianjiang and its current stable of Benelli products will definitely make it easier for Harley to develop new models faster.