A few weeks back, Harley-Davidson had issued a statement that it plans to exit certain loss-making International Markets to focus on the US Market. Today, Harley-Davidson announced that it will shut down its manufacturing and sales operations in India under “The Rewire” programme.

The sales record of Harley-Davidson was never impressive in India and with the current COVID-19 pandemic, the already-low demand was heavily impacted causing them to exit the Indian market.

In the last financial year, Harley-Davidson sold less than 2500 units which are the worst numbers for them in any International Market. The shut down will result in 70% of Harley-Davidson employees being laid off in India. The automobile manufacturer has an assembly unit in Bawal, Haryana.

In FY19, Harley sold 2276 units which were 22% lesser sales as compared to FY18 where it had sold 3414 units. About 65% of total Harley India’s sales volume consists of smaller capacity bikes around 750cc, which it assembles in Haryana.

Harley had tied up with a Chinese company Qianjiang a couple of years ago to build a sub-350cc motorcycle for the Indian market. The launch was supposed to be in 2020 but there are no signs of that project in India, and Harley’s exit might confirm that it has put curtains on that project. The main objective of Harley to build a 350cc bike was to compete against its competitor Royal Enfield which has enormous sales numbers for mid-capacity Bullet 350 and Bullet 500. The success of Royal Enfield is mainly due to selling cruiser motorcycles at fraction of the price of Harley-Davidson, in a price-sensitive Indian market. It took 10 years for Harley to sell a total of 25,000 units in India which by no means are good sales numbers as compared to it’s US Market.

Harley’s competition also includes Triumph, Indian Benelli, Kawasaki, Ducati, Aprilia, and a premium range of bikes from Yamaha, Kawasaki Ninja, Suzuki, and Honda. Most of these automobile giants do not share sales data with the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.

Harley could never join hands with any Indian Automobile manufacturer, whereas on the other hand, Britain’s Triumph Motorcycle has partnered with Pune’s Bajaj Auto for developing a series of bikes ranging between 200cc – 750cc, especially for the Indian Market. The launch is supposed to be around 2022. German Giant BMW has also tied up with TVS Motors to build a couple of motorcycles like the BMW G310R which is manufactured in Chennai.

Image Credit: harley-davidson.com

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