Harley Davidson Set To Attack Asian Market
Tie-In With Hero MotorCorp About To Bear fruitby Harry Fisher, on LISTEN 02:51
Harley Davidson is set to renew its attack on the lucrative Asian market through its partnership with Hero MotorCorp, the Indian motorcycle manufacturing giant. The first model will be a retro-style mid-capacity roadster.
Harley Davidson To re-Enter Asian Market
Harley Davidson has long realised the importance of success in the Asian market. The company spent 11 years trying to establish the brand in India, albeit with its existing line-up of large capacity - and expensive - cruisers. It pulled out due to disappointing sales and huge overheads incurred in setting its own production operation up there.
It wasn’t a complete withdrawal, however, as the American company signed a deal with India’s
- and reportedly the world’s - biggest motorcycle manufacturer, Hero MotorCorp,
to handle distribution and sales of imported models, while piggy-backing off its manufacturing capabilities to develop new more cost-effective models for the Asian market. In return, Harley Davidson would work with Hero to help develop a line of larger Hero models which would go head to head with rival Bajaj, which has a development tie-up with Triumph.
Now, the first fruits of the H-D/Hero partnership are being teased, with the announcement at an investor event of a new mid-size retro-styled model to wear the H-D badge. No images or details were revealed.
It’s not the first time Harley has been down this road: in 2019, a prototype small H-D built in conjunction with China’s QJ Motors was spied. Called the 338R, it shared much with the Benelli 302R, also built by QJ Motors.
That model seemed to be a victim of Harley management’s re-structure, with then-CEO Jochen Zeitz insisting the company would concentrate on its core business of large cruisers at the expense of new markets.
But it was clear that any manufacturer worth its salt was taking the Asian market seriously, even if it meant moving away from its comfort zone. Partnering with an experienced Asian manufacturer who understands the market and who already has production facilities has long been seen as the golden ticket to playing seriously in new markets demanding motorcycles that are a long way from what you are used to building.
Harley’s deal with Hero is a win-win for both parties: Harley gets the benefit of Hero’s production and region-specific model expertise while Hero can learn from Harley’s expertise in large-capacity motorcycle manufacture.
For the time being, there are no details of the new Harley/Hero but it is coming. Whether it will be seen outside Asia is another matter but it’s an important step in the direction of survival for the iconic American brand.