Harley sees growing leisure motorcycle segment in India and China

Harley-Davidson on Thursday launched four new motorcycles — Street Bob, Fat Bob, Fat Boy and Heritage Classic — in India under its Softail range. The new Softail bikes start at Rs 11.99 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) and are much different from their outgoing versions in the terms of both aesthetics and engineering.

On the occasion of the launch, we got to meet and talk to H-D’s new managing director for both India and China operations, Peter Mackenzie, who told us about likes and dislikes of both the markets and answered our questions on the leisure motorcycle segment.

What is the challenge you feel in the term of difference in the markets of India and China?

Strategy for both the markets remains the same and that’s the same as the global strategy, has to be more accessible, more relevant to cater the next generation of the Harley riders. So, the strategy remains same around the world, China or India.

There are probably two things on notice. The first thing, within China the leisure motorcycle riding is still evolving as well as here in India. But in India, one can ride these motorcycles n road in tier I cities that’s the not a case in China, most cities have riding restrictions there. So, people possessioning Harley mostly as a lifestyle product. Here in India, things are different, people actually use to commuting on motorcycles. So, that’s the cultural difference.

The thing that remains constant is people have expectations around the world that they want great products, great service and great experience and that’s constant in India and China as well.

What are your plans for platform sharing, which most of the global manufacturers are doing right now?

We don’t explain much on the future products. What I can tell you is that we took the Dyna and Sportster platform for great new products launched on one platform. I think that’s an example how we continue to evolve and listen to our customer requirements.

Which leisure motorcycle manufacturer you see as a strong competitor in India (Triumph Motorcycles of Indian Motorcycle)?

On the challenge point of view, I will say that the whole leisure motorcycle customer segment is still growing and evolving here in India. So, whether somebody is growing a competitor part for Harley-Davidson, at this stage, I still see the market needs to grow.

I don’t see it as a competition, I see as we all are working to grow the sport of leisure motorcycling. This stage is a growing opportunity for all of us.

What are your plans to make the brand more accessible in India, especially when it comes to the riding culture?

This year we have lots of activities, lots of events happening, India Bike Week is coming up, Harley groups will continue to do their rides and other events. What we are planning to make it more accessible are more dealerships which are more accessible to the customers. We like the dealers to create more local events for their customers because they have a more personal touch. As a motor company ourselves, we can’t connect with every individual but the dealerships can. So we encourage our dealers for more ride events, bring new customers in garage parties, weekend rides and other events.

How different you feel the advanced products are as compared to the conventional Harleys? Will they impress the classic cruiser fans?

The new products are much different, much better. Quicker acceleration, better cornering and performance, easy to lift off the stand, a lot of things have been improved.

I think the DNA of the heritage is still there, we are putting a modern age on the classic style. And that’s why customers already having a classic Harley would like to buy another new one.

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Craig Ballantyne

I love anything to do with Harley Davidson and have two beautiful children and a beautiful partner. In my spare time i like building websites and love anything to do with the internet.

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