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Harley Riding High on the H.O.G. in India

Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Harley ad campaign
It hasn’t taken Harley-Davidson long to embed itself into the Indian conscience since announcing it was expanding into the Indian market in August 2009. By 2010 it was already selling 12 models through dealerships in New Delhi, Chandigarh and Hyderabad. This was followed by the opening of an assembly plant in the Indian state of Haryana which enabled them to ship complete knock-down kits (CKD) and cut taxes almost in half.

“CKD assembly operations in India are a natural next step for Harley-Davidson as we build our brand presence around the world,” said Harley-Davidson Motor Company President and Chief Operating Officer Matthew S. Levatich in past PR.

Now The Motor Company now has nine dealers spread throughout the country, from Capital Harley-Davidson to Spice Coast H-D. The Harley-Davidson India website shows 15 models currently being sold in the country, from four Sportster models to the ever-popular Fat Boy to the mega-tourer Ultra Classic Electra Glide. Of those, the two Dynas are pieced together at H-D’s Bawal plant in Haryana while other CKD assembly operations, which began in January of 2011, consists of Sporsters including the SuperLow, Iron 883 and Forty-Eight. The Motor Company also announced its intentions to expand operations in Kolkata, Kochi and Jaipur.

With the infrastructure in place, Harley culture will have the opportunity to spread, especially as events like the first National Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) Rally take place. A report from newKerala.com states there “are more than 2000 Harleys on the roads of India” according to H-D India’s Managing Director Anoop Prakash. Sounds like enough for a good street party to me. The seeds have been sewn.

The first H.O.G. Rally in India is part of a larger celebration, Harley-Davidson’s 110th Anniversary, with worldwide stops planned throughout the year. The Indian shin-dig will take place in Goa on January 31 – February 1. Would love to see how they get their party on in India myself, especially being an inaugural event. Guaranteed some interesting stories will be floating around after that bash.

The newKerala.com report also said that Harley-Davidson will be a sponsor of India Bike Week, slated to follow the H.O.G. affair February 2-3 in Goa as well. I’ve seen videos of the throngs gathered at roadside stunt shows and the crowds were crazy, so I can imagine how they’ll embrace something on a grander scale.

It appears that Harley’s strategies for infiltrating the Indian market have been successful so far. As to what might be Harley’s “natural next step” in the second-largest motorcycle market in the world, a good bet would be a motorcycle built ground-up in India for the Indian market. This rumor has been tossed around before, the most recent fuel to the fire a report from ZigWheels titled “Harley-Davidson to launch a made-for-India machine in 2014.” Of course, the tips come from anonymous sources, which is a good thing because The Motor Company promises quartering or the rack for anybody divulging trade secrets. Whether the story has validity or not, we’ll find out at the 2014 Auto Expo where the report claims the new entry-level Harley will be unveiled. But circumventing heavy tariffs on imports makes sound financial sense, be it not without back lash though. The motorcycle in question would be a 400-500cc V-Twin if the stories to be believed. Curious to think about, to say the least.

Until then, the Harley ad I downloaded from the H-D India site “Resistance is Futile” seems apropos. Harley is coming India. Enjoy the ride.
Post Tags: Harley-Davidson, Harley-Davidson India, H-D India, First HOG Rally in India
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