Harley-Davidson to 'Re-wire' itself out of Indian market?

Harley-Davidson's 'Re-wire turned Hardwire' strategy could see it exit certain nations, including the world's largest two-wheel market of India...

Harley-Davidson Softail Standard

We’ve been waiting with bated breath to discover more details about Harley-Davidson’s so-called ‘Hardwire’ strategy, but in the meantime we’re getting drips of information about what the future for the iconic but beleaguered brand holds.

Fresh from the confirmation Harley-Davidson has put the Bronx streetfighter on hold – or axed it altogether if you want to read between the curated yet very non-committal press statement – reports suggest it could be considering withdrawing from certain markets that hurt its bottom line.

While this is perhaps logical reaction, rumours that it is preparing to exit the Indian market is still a very significant one given the huge contribution the nation makes to most manufacturers’ global sales figures.

Harley-Davidson LiveWire (2020) Review | Visordown.com

According to The Hindu, despite the huge playing field, Harley-Davidson has struggled to gain a foothold in the decade or so it has been present there and the reasons aren’t altogether surprising

With its high list prices making the premium brand look particularly unattainable in India where there are myriad budget options from local marques, plus international brands that have set up shop there to keep costs low, Harley-Davidson is simply asking too much for too little.

Even Donald Trump got involved recently to try and get that all-American icon moving in India with a new agreement on tax levies, but it seems the President’s soundbites have gone no further than headlines.

India withdrawal a clue to Harley-Davidson ‘Hardwire’?

We’ve had the LiveWire, then we got the ‘ReWire’ with the change of guard at the head of H-D and how we’re getting the ‘Hardwire’ to lay out the company’s future.

While outgoing bosses favoured a more diversified international scope – hence the LiveWire and the upcoming, still seemingly alive Pan America ADV – new bosses have indicated they want to focus on the core customer base. In other words, do what it does best despite that market base declining as potential owners look towards a bevy of arguably better rival offerings.

While the LiveWire – which is ironically probably as far away from the Hardwire strategy going forward as you can get - is expected to stay on simply because of how long and expensive its route to market was, you get the sense America is H-D’s primary focus now.

It means the HD350 – a collaboration with Benelli and QJ Motor - small naked could be on the chopping block. The model was supposed to be Harley-Davidson’s locally-built, good value entry into the lucrative Asian market but we get the impression it’s at odds with the new strategy.

Depending on whether new CEO Jochen Zeitz’s priority is sales or preserving the brand will decide on its fate…