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Harley-Davidson rolls out Fat Bob, eyes growth in smaller towns

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New Delhi, November 22, 2012: Leisure motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson is expanding its CKD investments in India with the launch of its sixth CKD premium motorcycle, the Fat Bob priced at Rs 12.80 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). The other five models include three sportster models and two bikes from the Dyna family. The Fat Bob will be the third addition to the Dyna family and will be assembled in India.

While Harley-Davidson began retail operations in India over two years ago, assembly operations took off a year ago. The manufacturer has an assembly unit at Bawal, Haryana, where the Fat Bob, which has a 1585cc engine mated to a six-speed cruise drive, will also be assembled.

Terming accessibility to its customers as the growth driver for Harley-Davidson in India, managing director Anoop Prakash (pictured) says that investing in CKD operations helped bring down the price point for the company’s leisure bikes. The company has partnered with ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank to create financing options for customers besides focusing on providing a pleasant customer experience for increasing sales.

This year, till early November, has seen Harley- Davidson India notch over 30 percent growth from last year. It hopes to end 2012 with sales of 2,000 bikes. “The leisure motorcycling market is developing very rapidly and seeing double-digit growth with other brands coming in and other manufacturers looking at their offerings more closely and expanding their leisure riding emphasis. We have created the leisure motorcycling market and momentum and we see that continuing to grow,” adds Prakash.

While expanding its product portfolio, Harley is also extending its dealer network with new showrooms opening this year at Kochi and Kolkata. This will take the total number of its dealerships to nine with a 10th outlet to come up in Goa in December-January.

At present, most of the company’s India sales come from the metros. However, from 2013, the dealer network will be expanded to new cities like Pune, Jaipur and Indore where Harley is scouting for the right business partner. According to Prakash, there is a considerable customer buzz in Tier 2 cities where the leisure biking culture is still in a nascent stage. Hence, he says, future investments will flow to these cities.

In October 2012, the bikemaker sold 89 units, down 11 percent on the 100 units sold in October 2011. In the first seven months of the current fiscal (April-October 2012), Harley-Davidson India has sold a total of 628 units. Harley-Davidson has no plans for local manufacturing currently. However, Prakash says that further investments will depend on how the market pans out and the company is planning something new next year.

For Prakash, Harley’s target customer in India is in the 30-plus age bracket and a high achiever. First-time Harley buyers will begin with 883cc bikes and move upwards to the higher-performance 1600cc and above motorcycles. Globally the fastest growth for Harley Davidson will come from the emerging markets like India, China and Brazil driven by enthusiasm not only from the middle classes but also from investments made by manufacturers. While these emerging markets are all growing at 30 percent in leisure biking, volumes still continue to be modest.

However, India and Brazil besides USA also are the main markets where assembly facilities are present for the company.

SHOBHA MATHUR
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