We are selling leisure motorcycles, not two-wheelers

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SummaryAfter clocking 40% sales growth last year, high-end motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson has now set its sights on India’s non-metros in its attempt to grow the market for leisure motorcycling in India.

After clocking 40% sales growth last year, high-end motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson has now set its sights on India’s non-metros in its attempt to grow the market for leisure motorcycling in India. Anoop Prakash, the managing director, Harley-Davidson India, told Ajay Sukumaran and Anand J that the company is confident of its investments in an assembly plant in Haryana and customer outreach will drive demand in what’s still a niche segment in India. Excerpts:

Harley has been expanding to the country’s smaller cities. How has the ride been?

Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore certainly form the three biggest markets for us. The last three cities where we have started selling are Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Kochi, and all these have had really strong starts with the momentum continuing well post- launch. We entered the Indian market with our first showroom in July 2010 and since then, have opened nine showrooms. We have expanded so fast because of the kind of enthusiasm we saw across India. By year-end, we will have 10 showrooms, including one in Goa. Next year, we will be in Jaipur, Indore and Pune.

Is it pent-up demand that is driving sales for you? How long do you think you can sustain this momentum?

First, since July 2010, we would have sold over 2,000 Harleys. We have really focused on accessibility, implying we have invested in completely knocked down (CKD) operations. By assembling six models here, we have been able to propel the value-for-money equation. Second, we brought to India the full Harley-Davidson ownership experience. When you look at other manufacturers who have come to India (whether it’s cars or motorcycles), they haven’t brought the full range of products. Neither have they invested fully in assuring excellent after-sales operations and a strong supply chain. You can’t grow like that. But we have made those investments.

At what pace will you introduce locally assembled models?

I would love to introduce at least one new model every year. Globally as well, we launch new models every year. Whenever there is a relevant model that is likely to do well in India, we would bring it here.

What’s your long-term vision for the Indian market?

What’s telling about India and its importance is that it happens to be the first market where we entered as a wholly owned subsidiary, right from day one. Harley had never entered a market that way before; it had always been through distributors or partners.

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