AMERICAN cult bike brand Harley Davidson may finally hit the Indian roads. In an effort to ease import of all bikes with over 800cc engine capacity, the government has relaxed their testing norms. The director general of foreign trade (DGFT) has now allowed import of all such bikes which have been
tested and approved (read homologated) by any certified agency from the European Union. The earlier policy stated that all these tests needed to be carried only in the ‘country of origin’ of the product. As a result, Harley Davidson’s 800cc and above bikes were required to be homologated in the US. Similarly, Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha bikes had to be homologated in Japan, where they are actually manufactured, in order to b e roadworthy in India.
Many bike makers, including Harley Davidson, had been lobbying with the government to relax these homologation norms. Harley had been facing problems meeting Indian homologation norms, which had been the biggest impediment for imports to India. Now its US-made bikes can tag an EU homologation certificate to be sold in India.
The government’s decision will also encourage other twowheeler majors such as Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki to introduce their full range of high-powered products in India. Yamaha Motor India has already launched its two super bikes — 1,000 cc YZF R1 and 1,680 cc MT01 — in India. These homologated and certified in India before the relaxed import policy was announced in April this year.
However, for other super bike makers such as Suzuki Motorcycle India (SMIL), which plans to launch its legendary 1300 cc Hayabusa and the 1600 cc B King sometime next year, the new policy will now expedite the launch. SMIL vice-president (sales & marketing) Atul Gupta said, “It will help us immensely to introduce our bikes faster in India. As our current homologation certificates from Netherlands will be allowed here, we will get a big boost in this niche market.”
The super bike manufacturers have also asked the government to reduce the current 110% duty on the import of such bikes to m a k e t h e p r i c e competitive. “We cannot compete with high-duty s t r u c t u r e s which make our price very uncompetitive. We will come only if the government moderates its duties to the international level,” Harley’s vice-president, government affairs, Timothy Hoelter, had said during his visit to India a few months ago. However, all such bikes will have to conform to the Euro III emission norms