Is Big Fat Boy Leaving India?

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Harley Davidson, 117 years of history and so much more, the iconic high-end cruiser bike maker Harley-Davidson is considering on shutting down its assembly operations in India after 10 years of entering the Indian market due to lower sales and the future demand looks bleak. Harley-Davidson reported a $96 million loss from April 2020 to June 2020. The industry was already going through prolonged slowdown even before COVID-19 pandemic.

The report states that the US-based motorcycle manufacturer has sent some automobile manufacturers through consultants for a possible outsourcing arrangement for the use of its leased assembly plant located at Bawal in Haryana. 

The decision to discontinue assembly was primarily due to its rewire strategy to focus on about 50 markets in North America, Europe and parts of Asia Pacific, where "the company sees greater sales and growth potential."

As per statement of its second quarter results last month, Harley-Davidson stated, "The Company is evaluating plans to exit international markets, where production and profits do not support continued investment in line with future strategy." 

As per another report, Sajeev Rajasekharan, Managing Director,  “Asia’s emerging markets and India, would be transferred to Singapore and their sales and marketing operations in India would be reduced”.

Industry officials said Harley-Davidson India was able to sell less than 2,500 units in the last financial year. If the company really gets involved here, Harley-Davidson will be the second automaker to cease operations in India since Donald Trump took over as president. General Motors consolidated its domestic operations and sold its Gujarat plant in 2017. 

The company declined request for comment on its immediate plans for India and an external spokesperson said the company "does not comment on speculation". 

The Industry officials said Harley-Davidson India sold less than 2,500 units in the last financial year and sold just 100 bikes between April-June 2020, making India one of its worst performing international markets. 

With an effort to make its products more affordable for Asian markets, Harley-Davidson has partnered with a Chinese company — Qianjiang — to manufacture budget-friendly 250 cc and 500 cc bikes. Given the popularity of quatre-litre and mid-capacity bikes in India, perhaps ending operations here may not be the best thing for the company.

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