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May 27, 2017

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A decade of hot sales and still going strong

There will be more dealerships in big and small cities in China, says Harley-Davidson chief

Every morning Matt Levatich walks into his garage and listens to his three Harley-Davidson motorcycles to hear which one of the Harleys-known affectionately to owners and fans as "hogs"-"speaks" to him, and picks the one that he feels right for the day.

The mechanical engineer by training and president and chief executive of Harley-Davidson has a passion for engines, power, and range which goes beyond mere words to describe.

Growing up riding bikes, Levatich combined his business ambitions and lifestyle when he joined the company in 1994. He has been biking in many places around the world-and one of the motorbiking trips that impressed him most was when in 2006, Harley-Davidson first entered the Chinese mainland, he rode along the Great Wall with other 30 Harley-Davidson owners. Subsequently he witnessed the fast expansion of the business in the past decade through frequent visits to the mainland.

Levatich recently talked to China Daily about the company's strategy and the motorcycling culture in China. The following are edited excerpts from the interview.

What kind of lifestyle does Harley-Davidson represent? How would you describe a person who follows this life-style?

I think every culture has a slightly unique perspective on Harley. But what they all have as a very common perspective is this sense of freedom, and a sense of identity that "I'm a certain sort of person and I wanna make a statement about who I am as an individual." We call it personal freedom and it's the core of what the brand means for the riders.

How do you evaluate Harley-Davidson's performance since it entered China in 2006?

I am quite pleased to have seen the number of Harley-Davidson owners grow quickly in the past decade and the brand is widely known among consumers. Financially China, as a part of the Asian market, is also one of the fastest-growing markets despite a fiercely competitive environment. We are pleased to see the passion from Chinese riders and we are confident that more understanding of the riding culture will drive growth.

Which Harley-Davidson models sell the best in China? and Why?

The Harley-Davidson Street 750 motorcycle and Sportster motorcycles are both best sellers in the China market. These two families appeal to young riders in China who are keen on agile and powerful rides in China's urban environments. Moreover the Street, Iron 883 and Forty-Eight models form the Dark Custom lineup-hard-nosed machines that offer an authentic, affordable experience to a new generation of riders, who want to make the Dark Custom motorcycle his or her own with accessories, ingenuity or riding experiences. This aspect certainly appeals to Chinese riders.

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