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All is not lost for India's Harley-Davidson enthusiasts

October 27, 2020 20:51 IST

The country's largest two wheeler maker Hero MotoCorp and Harley-Davidson on Tuesday announced a wide ranging partnership for the Indian market, days after the US cult bike manufacturer announced its exit from the country.

As part of the deal, Hero MotoCorp will develop and sell a range of premium motorcycles under the Harley-Davidson brand name in the country.

Besides, it will take care of service and parts requirements for the Harley bikes.


Further, Hero MotoCorp would sell Harley accessories and general merchandise, riding gear and apparel through a network of brand-exclusive Harley-Davidson dealers and its existing sales network in the country, the companies said in a joint statement.

"These actions are aligned with Harley-Davidson's business overhaul, The Rewire, and the company's announcement in September to change its business model in India," it added.

This arrangement is mutually beneficial for both companies and riders in India, as it brings together the iconic Harley-Davidson brand with the strong distribution network and customer service of Hero MotoCorp, it added.

In September, Harley-Davidson had announced discontinuation of sales and manufacturing operations in India, a decade after it started selling its premium bikes in the country.

As part of the development, the company had announced plans to close its manufacturing facility in Bawal (Haryana) and significantly reduce the size of its sales office in Gurugram.

The exit from India is part of the company's global restructuring activities.

In the second quarter of 2020, Harley-Davidson had initiated restructuring activities like workforce reduction and the termination of certain contracts that would result in the elimination of approximately 700 positions globally, including the termination of approximately 500 employees.

The Milwaukee-based company refers to restructuring actions related to employees and other services as 'The Rewire'.

From its entry to exit, Harley-Davidson's journey in the country witnessed governments of India and the US using it as a bargaining chip.

In April 2007, the then Indian government had relaxed emission and testing norms, paving the way for import of Harley Davidson bikes to India, in return for allowing mango exports from the country to the US.

The import relaxation was restricted to the shipments of motorcycles up to 800 cc engine capacity or above subject to compliance to Euro III emission norms.

Later in 2009, the company announced the establishment of its operations in India, followed by starting of sales of its bikes a year later.

Then the company set up its completely knocked down assembly plant in Haryana and started rolling out assembled bikes from the unit in the early part of 2011.

The company's assembly plant at Bawal in Haryana was its second facility outside of the US after Brazil, and it had planned to use the unit to export to Europe and South-East Asian markets.

In the recent past, US President Donald Trump criticised India's high import tariff on the iconic Harley Davidson motorcycles as "unacceptable" as the two countries negotiated for an elusive trade deal.

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