American motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson has not been doing well in sales for quite some time. The company has already shifted a majority of its key focus from heavy cruisers to lighter and more usable motorcycles for beginners. On the other hand, the Milwaukee-based automaker is almost ready with an all-new adventure tourer dubbed Pan America. The all-electric LiveWire was showcased in India last year.
If we take India, the world’s largest two-wheeler market, over 20 million units are sold annually (pre-COVID trend). Out of this, premium motorcycles contribute only about 10,000 units. This has forced Harley-Davidson to rethink its Indian operations as part of the global strategy to concentrate only on important markets such as Europe, China and the USA.
As a result, Harley-Davidson India plans to wind up local production and sell only CBU units, says a report from ET Auto. Multiple rumours suggest that the company would be closing its plant in Bawal, Haryana towards the end of next month. This would mean that production of Street 750 will stop.
Furthermore, Sajeev Rajasekharan, Harley-Davidson India’s current Managing Director, is being transferred to Singapore in line with the company’s global restructuring. Major departments such as sales, marketing and after-sales will be trimmed down in staff strength.
Certain sources reveal that Harley-Davidson’s existing ‘dealer development functioning’ would be run by a junior executive. Plans to shut down the Bawal manufacturing facility are awaiting approval. Harley-Davidson India, based in Gurgaon, was formed in August 2009. The company’s very first dealership was opened in July 2010.
In FY2020, Harley-Davidson India sold only 2,470 units, among which the entry-level locally manufactured Street 750 contributed the highest. In the April-June quarter, sales crashed by 87 per cent (compared to the same period last year) to hit 106 motorcycles. COVID-19 pandemic and the initial lockdown protocols were also responsible for such a massive sales decline.
Harley-Davidson calls its latest business strategy, The Rewire. The five-year plan aims to enhance core strengths and balance expansion policies, prioritise important markets, plan launches for “maximum impact”, manufacture parts, accessories and merchandise in full potential; and finally, adapt cost structure and operations to achieve minimal complexity.
In its global portfolio, Harley-Davidson has six model lines or platforms: Sportster, Dyna, Softail, V-Rod, Touring and Street. In India, the iconic motorcycle manufacturer sells 13 models across Street, Cruiser and Touring categories. The range starts with the Street 750 at Rs 4.69 lakh and crosses Rs 50 lakh for the CVO Limited. Prices mentioned here are ex-showroom, Delhi.