Harley-Davidson agrees new Hero deal for India, new models on the way

Harley-Davidson agrees a new deal with Hero MotoCorp that will not only ensure an Indian distribution network but result in a number of brand-new models

Harley-Davidson Fat Bob

Harley-Davidson and Hero MotoCorp have announced it will join forces in 2021 in an agreement that will ensure a distribution network and a slew of new models to be sold in the world’s largest motorcycle market of India.

Last month, Harley-Davidson confirmed it would take the unprecedented step of exiting India just 10 years after setting up shop there in a move that appeared symptomatic the elongated troubles it has faced globally, namely its premium motorcycles were just too expensive to appeal to the average indian customer despite the huge number of models sold there annually.

However, that isn’t to say Harley-Davidson will simply ignore the largest slice of the motorcycling pie on the planet and has instead decided to delegate its fortunes over to Hero MotoCorp, the world’s largest maker of motorcycles and scooters in terms of unit volumes.

This isn’t a new approach by any means when you look at what KTM and Triumph are doing with Bajaj, while BMW has a similar deal in place with TVS Motors.

It means Harley-Davidson retains a distribution network for its existing models and allows customers that did purchase bikes in those 10 years to get them serviced and maintained easily.

However, the most interesting part of the deal is that Hero MotoCorp will be entrusted to develop and sell a ‘range of premium motorcycles under the Harley-Davidson brand name’.

While the statement from both companies is brief to say the least, it appears to confirm Harley-Davidson’s Rewire strategy is indeed aimed at focusing attention on its core cruiser business model in the US, but it will then out-source its global approach to those more in tune with specific markets.

It explains why we have the Qianjiang-built Harley-Davidson 338R, the baby Harley that will go on sale in Asia imminently, without ever likely seeing US soil.

As for what Hero MotoCorp-developed models this could mean is up for debate, but one would assume it will allow Harley-Davidson to retain its premium image with motorcycles available at a much lower cost and aided by Hero’s intimate knowledge of the market they are aimed for.