Harley Davidson last week entered into a distribution and licensing agreement with Hero MotoCorp as a part of its Rewire strategy.
Harley Davidson’s partnership with Indian two-wheeler giant Hero MotoCorp was on the expected lines since the American brand quit its India operations a couple of months ago. As per this deal, Hero MotoCorp will now develop and sell a range of premium motorcycles under the Harley Davidson brand name.
However, this partnership has put the fate of Harley India’s existing 33 dealerships across the country in doubt. These dealers are spread across metros and smaller towns across India and have no idea what future holds for them. As per last update, Harley Davidson was still in process of communicating this transition to its existing dealers.
Current status of Harley Davidson Dealer in India
Dealers still awaiting clarity from Harley or Hero MotoCorp; expect the network to be shrunk to 13-15 dealerships from the current 33. Dealers have confessed that mid-sized motorcycle Street 750 accounted for 70-80 percent sales in the country and has been out of production for more than a month.
A Harley Davidson dealer on condition of anonymity admitted that in its good days, the dealers sold around 20-25 units of Harley each month which has come down to single-digit figures. With Street 750 most likely not to return and the launch of a mid-size motorcycle from the Hero-Harley combination still a few years away, dealers feel they should be compensated for the investments made by them or should increase the profit margins to sustain operations.
Future of these dealers
The report states that Hero Moto will not only sell and service existing Harley bikes in India but also “sell parts and accessories and general merchandise riding gear and apparel through a network of brand-exclusive Harley-Davidson dealers network in India”.
Another Harley Davidson dealer said that in 2013, the American motorcycle brand was solely dependent on CBUs and there were only 9-10 dealerships at that time. The company is heading towards the same direction now.
The most affected dealers are going to be those in the smaller markets of the country and those who had recently refurbished their showrooms and invested a sizeable chunk. A clearer picture is expected later this week when an official communication from Harley Davidson is sent out to dealers which will throw some light on increased margins or compensation for the dealers.
Harley Davidson officially announced its tie-up Hero MotoCorp. This is not a first in two wheeler industry. We have already seen the likes of Bajaj-KTM, BMW-TVS and Jawa-Classic Legends. The first product of this joint venture is likely to be a mid-size motorcycle in the 350-500cc segment. This made-in-India Harley motorcycle is also expected to be exported by Hero to overseas markets.