We had spoken about this possible alliance in a report from September 25 this year. This is when Harley-Davidson India said that they are leaving the country. Well, now Hero MotoCorp has sent in a statement confirming that it will partner Harley in the Indian market. As per this agreement, Hero MotoCorp will not only sell as well as service Harley bikes in India but also distribute accessories and apparel. This will be done through brand-exclusive Harley-Davidson dealers and Hero’s existing dealership network. At the same time, through a license agreement, Hero will sell and develop a range of premium bikes under the Harley name in India. From its side, Harley which has been struggling worldwide calls this as part of the Rewire program. This is also going to be the new business model in India.
How do I as a Harley-Davidson customer benefit?
For starters, customers can now go to designated Hero workshops to get their Harley serviced. While the list isn’t out yet, we expect the websites of both manufacturers to be updated with the same. With Hero coming on board, Harley dealerships and service centres can heave a sigh of relief. There will be investment as well as support from the world’s largest two-wheeler maker. It is obvious that existing Hero dealerships will have a separate air-conditioned bay for Harley bikes. Such dealerships with larger service capacity will be identified and pressed to Harley service. Aftersales personnel will also be trained as the standards at Hero and Harley are going to be very different.
That’s not all. Harley will likely continue to bring in CKD parts. At least for the moment to stabilise the operations. Later on, one of the Hero MotoCorp plants can have an additional assembly line for making Harley bikes. It is expected that Hero MotoCorp might hire existing laid-off staff from Harley’s Bawal plant. Or, the former could even buy or operate the plant under license.
Do we see a co-developed product soon?
The press release does mention about Hero “developing and selling a range of premium motorcycles under the Harley-Davidson brand name.” However, any new product development will take about 3-4 years for fruition. So, we don’t expect an Harley Xtreme 750R in the immediate future. Platform sharing might happen as Hero will also be keen to develop its own range of bikes from this. Something which we have seen Bajaj do with KTM bikes as well as TVS with BMW.
There will be a lot of brainstorming and currently due to travel restrictions, neither will Hero or Harley employees be able to visit each other. Hero has a fair experience of assembling big bikes, doing so for BMW in the early 90s in India. However, with most of the Hero bikes these days getting repeated complaints from customers, quality definitely has to be upped. Now could also be the right time to introduce a Harley-Hero scooter as well.
What are your thoughts on this?