Hero MotoCorp could pick up Harley-Davidson Indian operations

The deal would see Hero MotoCorp manufacturing Harley-Davidson motorcycles in the Indian market

Harley-Davidson Sportster

JUST a month after it was announced that Harley-Davidson was pulling out of the world’s biggest motorcycle market, the firm may be about to plot its return, with the help of Indian’s biggest automotive brand, Hero MotoCorp.

Harley-Davidson’s exit from India came after around ten years of trading in the nation, with little reward to show for the outlay. Given that America’s most well-known motorcycle manufacturer is going through some tough times at the moment, a monetary black-hole in the brand’s global portfolio is definitely not what it needs. Because of this, Harley-Davidson has shut down the Bawal manufacturing plant and retail outlets in the region.

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We had a feeling though that H-D’s adieu to India would be either short-lived or backed up by some form of deal with an existing Indian brand. And it looks as though our hunch was correct.

Reports are beginning to surface on Indian motorcycle publications. It’s claimed that the whisper from within India’s notoriously leaky motorcycle industry is that Hero may be stepping in. There is no official confirmation from either party yet, although if the reports are true, the deal sounds like it’s close to being sealed in ink.

The reports suggest that Hero MotoCorp will be granted the distribution rights of Harley-Davidson’s products in the country. The deal is rumoured to mean Hero will be able to import and sell the US brand's bikes long into the future. It’s also being said that Hero could also manufacture H-D branded bikes, although probably not at the recently closed Bawal facility. Hero already has a strong industrial presence across India, taking on another firm's facility when Hero already has a strong manufacturing presence just doesn’t make sense.

While the news is, at this stage, hearsay, there was some insight from a Harley-Davidson official that could be a hint that a deal is incoming. They were quoted as saying, “This is not a permanent exit. We are evaluating all options to maintain a presence in the Indian market after December.”