It wasn’t too long ago that Harley-Davidson said that it was pulling out of the Indian market. And, the MoCo has since closed its Bawal production facility in northern India.
Ultimately, Harley says that the reason for its exit is India’s high tax rate and lagging sales. The move is a blow to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to entice or retain foreign manufacturers.
But according to multiple news outlets, Harley may not be leaving the Indian market completely. There are reports that Harley could be in talks with India’s Hero MotoCorp for a sales and distribution deal.
According to indicanews.com, Harley is in “advanced” talks with India’s leading motorcycle manufacturer Hero MotoCorp Ltd. for a sales, distribution, and services deal. The talks have reportedly been in progress for more than a year.
Hero to assemble Harleys for the Indian market?
Indicanews says three unnamed sources say the deal may even go further. It could also include local assembly of select Harley-Davidson models such as the Street 750. If true, Hero will likely produce the machines at one of its India based manufacturing units.
According to an unnamed industry executive, the deal will have to be more than a distribution deal.
“It does not make much sense for Hero MotoCorp to settle down with a plain distribution and sales arrangement with them as it has its own well-established network across India. The arrangement, if it gets finalized, will include areas where Hero can benefit. It could be know how of quality and assembly of big bikes.”
There could be pressure on the American manufacturer to complete the deal. One of the reasons stated for the potential agreement is that Harley thinks the brand could be damaged if it withdraws from the subcontinent. It fears that a complete withdrawal would harm its chances if the brand decides to return to the Indian market in the future.
Presently, Harley has 33 operational dealerships in the country.