In what may come as a pleasant surprise to many, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has reported that Harley-Davidson is planning to assemble its bikes in the country in a bid to lower its products’ sticker price and boost sales. Harley-Davidson India is currently working on opening all its seven showrooms in the country and getting the sales up to speed. The 883 Sportster from the American company already comes at a lucrative price of less than 8 lakh rupees and localization would mean that these American beauties would become affordable by a majority of its fans.
The company will consider the option of assembling their bikes in India as the sales of the brand pick up in the country, Rod Copes, Harley-Davidson’s senior vice president of international sales, marketing and business development was quoted as saying. The ideal situation for the company would be to have the duties reduced, but knowing India, it seems like a far cry. “Getting the tariff reduced would be ideal. But we have not seen action on that yet,” Copes said.
Harley-Davidson may also consider going a step beyond assembly, and may actually start manufacturing the motorcycles in markets where it picks up well. Unlike in the past when the US of A used to be the only major market for H-D motorcycles, the company sells 32 percent of its motorcycles outside of the US. It’s becoming imperative for the company to find ways to operate smoothly in these foreign markets. The company’s plans to increase foreign sales to 40% by 2014 with a goal to add 100 to 150 international dealerships in 19 countries this year. “We are going to grow faster internationally,” Copes said.
While seeing a Harley Davidson motorcycle roll out of an India plant would be an honour for all of us cruiser enthusiasts, it may have a negative effect on the brand image of the legendary company. H-D has always been very closely associated with America, and manufacturing it outside may take some of the pride and exclusivity away from the brand.
It’s a brand new world however, where Japanese bikes are manufactured in the UK and British brands are owned and run by Saudi billionaires. The world seems to have come to terms with acknowledging a brand’s national identity even if it’s manufactured elsewhere. We genuinely hope that it works in the case of Harley motorcycles manufactured elsewhere as well.
Source : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel