Iconic American motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson and Hero MotoCorp, the world's largest manufacturer of two-wheelers by volume, have announced a new partnership for the India market. Under the new partnership and distribution agreement, Hero MotoCorp will sell and service Harley-Davidson motorcycles, and also sell parts and accessories, as well as general merchandise, riding gear and apparel through a network of brand-exclusive Harley-Davidson dealers and Hero's existing dealership network in India. According to a press statement, as part of a new Licensing agreement, Hero MotoCorp will develop and sell a range of premium motorcycles under the Harley-Davidson brand name.
So far, there are no details on what kind of motorcycles Hero MotoCorp will develop with the Harley-Davidson name, but from all indications, these range of bikes could be the entry-level Harley-Davidson bikes, targeted primarily at markets like India and other South East Asian countries. Till now, Harley-Davidson's smallest and most affordable model is the made-in-India Harley-Davidson Street 750. With a new partnership in place with China's Qianjiang Group, Harley-Davidson's smallest and most accessible model is expected to be the Harley-Davidson 338. With the new agreement with Hero MotoCorp, it looks like Harley-Davidson will be looking to tap into the potential of Asian markets with more small displacement motorcycles, with Hero becoming the latest manufacturing partner. The motorcycles are likely to be small displacement Harley-Davidson bikes, possibly between 250-500 cc.
According to a joint statement released by the two companies, the latest agreement is aligned with Harley-Davidson's business overhaul plan, dubbed 'The Rewire' and outlined by new Harley CEO Jochen Zeitz. In September, Harley-Davidson had announced that it will discontinue operations in India, and will change its business model. The two companies said the latest arrangement will be mutually beneficial for both companies and riders in India, and will bring together the iconic Harley-Davidson brand with the strong distribution network and customer service of Hero MotoCorp.
India's Bajaj Auto already owns 48 per cent of Austrian brand KTM, and also has a non-equity partnership with UK's Triumph Motorcycles, under which Bajaj will manufacture small displacement motorcycles under the Triumph brand in India. These Triumph motorcycles are expected to be affordable, accessible and offer a lower price point as entry into the Triumph brand. TVS Motor Company already manufactures the entry-level BMW Motorrad bikes, the BMW G 310 R and the BMW G 310 GS at its manufacturing facility in Hosur, Tamil Nadu. In April this year, TVS also acquired iconic British motorcycle brand Norton. With the latest announcement between Hero and Harley-Davidson, it's apparent that the world's biggest motorcycle brands are still bullish on India, and will strive to have a strong sales and distribution network in India, at the same time offering cost-effective products to consumers in the world's largest motorcycle market, that is India.