Harley-Davidson, the iconic American bike maker, is hitching a ride with local market leader Hero MotoCorp in a renewed attempt to capture the premium end of India’s 17-millionplus two-wheeler market – now the world’s largest.
Harley was evaluating options to retain its presence in India, where increasing affordability and rising incomes promise significant growth potential for more premium bikes.
As part of the partnership, Hero will develop and sell a range of premium Harley-Davidson motorcycles in India, the arrangement neatly dovetailing into Hero’s strategy to climb the value chain – and register its presence in the performance-bike segment.
“This arrangement is mutually beneficial for both companies and riders in India, as it brings together the iconic Harley-Davidson brand with the strong distribution network and customer service of Hero MotoCorp,” the Indian partner said in a statement.
The tie-up comes after several months of industry speculation. Harley had decided to shut down its India operations in September this year as part of its global ‘Rewire’ strategy.
Hero will provide the sales and service backbone to Harley’s stuttering India operations. As part of the distribution deal, Hero will sell Harley products in India through its dealer network. These products will be imported as completely built-up units.
Hero will also sell parts, accessories and general merchandise riding gear and apparel through the network of brand-exclusive Harley-Davidson dealers, although it may not retain all of the existing Harley outlets.
The American company has 22 dealer partners across 33 touchpoints in the country. In its 10-year play in India, the company has sold more than 25,000 units so far.
Harley-Davidson had said in September that it was “evaluating options to continue to serve its customers” in India. The company had informed dealers that it would not be renewing contracts after December 31.
This partnership with Harley-Davidson is in keeping with Hero’s mission to ‘Create, Collaborate & Inspire’.
Hero MotoCorp has been actively looking for new partners to expand its product portfolio and geographic reach.