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India opening its doors to Harley, others

According to a story published in the Indian newspaper The Mint, India’s Commerce Ministry is in the process of issuing a law that will allow Harley-Davidson and other high-powered motorcycles to be imported by the end of March. The move is considered a goodwill gesture ahead of U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab’s visit in the second week of April.

In the past, The Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways had blocked H-D’s attempts to import its motorcycles into the country, citing India doesn’t have any prescribed emission norms for motorcycles with an engine capacity exceeding 500cc. The ministry has now agreed to recognize Euro III (followed in Europe) emission norms for the motorcycles.

Contrary to an earlier proposal that was being discussed, the commerce ministry will not place any ceiling on the number of motorcycles that can be imported. A ministry official, who did not wish to be identified, said the high price of the product and a 60 percent import duty would deter mass imports.

H-D doesn’t expect to sell too many motorcycles in India, according to the official, who claimed the company has told the Indian government it hopes to import 2,000 of its products to India during the next three years. In response to the Indian government’s move, both Yamaha and Honda have applied for certification to import their larger engine bikes.

Fuel-efficient motorcycles with a 100cc engine capacity dominate India’s six-million-a-year motorcycle market. According to government statistics, these bikes are the nation’s main transport mode and eight out of every ten motorcycles sold in the country is a commuter bike.

For more on this story, read the April 2 edition of Powersports Business.

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