Buoyed by India's response to its super-machines, iconic American superbike maker Harley Davidson is setting up an assembly unit at Bawal, Haryana. This will be its second plant outside the United States, after Brazil.
The move will help Harley substantially cut the price of its bikes in India. It will pay only 10 per cent import duty on completely knocked-down units, instead of the steep 60 per cent on completely-built units. The domestic price of Harleys ranges from Rs 6.95 lakh to Rs 34.95 lakh.
Harley is looking to sell over 250 bikes by the end of December when it completes six months of operations in the country. This is significant, considering the fact that the superbike market in India is no more than 1,000 units annually. Other big boys in the segment include Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha and Ducati. BMW will also start operations in December.
Harley Davidson India Managing Director Anoop Prakash said, "We are evaluating the tariff structures. Our new pricing will be announced in January. The company will take into consideration investments being made in our assembly and subsidiary operations, conversion costs, transportation, marketing and other such factors, including the need to grow our business."
Contrary to popular belief, Harley Davidson executives say the average age of its Indian customers ranges between 35 and 40 years in short, the well-heeled with a passion for these mean machines. "While our clients come from across age groups ranging from 25 to 60 years, most of them are 35-40 years," points out Prakash. Among the rich and famous straddling Harleys are film stars Shahid Kapoor and Sanjay Dutt.
Harley currently offers 12 models belonging to five families: Sportster, Dyna, Softail, V-Rod and Touring. Interestingly, the bad boys hankering after one come from diverse backgrounds. "Our customers do belong to a higher income group. However, demand comes from across sectors professionals, human resource heads, doctors, IT firms and real estate consultants," said Sanjay Tripathi, director of marketing, Harley Davidson India.
Though the Sportster range, which has a base price of Rs 6.95 lakh, has generated considerable interest, the top-end Classic Electra Glide has already found three buyers in the country. Priced at Rs 34.95 lakh, the Electra Glide is the most expensive model in the Harley portfolio at present. "Electra Glide is our touring flagship model. It is a limited-edition model. Globally, Harley Davidson would sell 1,000 units of the Electra Glide," added Tripathi.
At the moment, the bikemaker hawks its products through authorised dealerships in Delhi, Mumbai, Chandigarh and Hyderabad and is looking at opening an outlet in Bangalore later this month.
Tripathi says demand is also filtering in from Tier-II cities. "Delhi and Mumbai are our biggest markets. But we have had landowners from Indore coming to our showroom in Delhi. Businessmen from Orissa have made inquiries at our centre in Hyderabad. In the course of 2011, we will open outlets in Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Chennai and Kochi to bring our products closer to our consumers."