Harley-Davidson in India rides on riders’ yen for thrill, leisure: Peter Mackenzie
The US-based two-wheeler maker, Harley-Davidson, is very bullish about the Indian market owing to its improving road infrastructure and the yearning of more people for the thrill and leisure aspects of riding. “The infrastructure in India is improving and we see a lot of people choosing to have the leisure part of riding. This is really good for us,” Peter Mackenzie, Managing Director, Harley
Davidson, India and China, said in an interaction with Sricharan R. Mackenzie was in Chennai for the formal opening of the 27th Harley-Davidson outlet. On the side lines of the event, Mackenzie told Auto Components India that the focus of HarleyDavidson was on lifestyle, adventure and authentic riding experience. “We will continue to concentrate on these factors for our continued success,” he said in a brief question and answer session. The excerpts: Q: What do you think about the biking culture in India? Mackenzie:
India is the biggest twowheeler market in the world. The country has a more younger population than in any other markets. With the improving infrastructure and more accessibility with dealerships like this, we get more opportunity to connect with the riders.
Q: Many companies make small and midsized bikes for the Indian roads. Does Harley have any such plan? Mackenzie:
First, I cannot speculate on the future product. But, when you think of Harley-Davidson, our strength lies in touring bikes. The heart and soul of Harley is the big V-Twin engine and we will continue to focus on that. That is where our strength really is. Our recentlylaunched bike in the Softail platform is an example for that. It has a whole newly-engineered chassis combined with new Milwaukee-Eight engines. That is where we are with big displacement engines. So, small displacement commuting bike is not where our strength lies. Again, I do not want to speculate on our future products.
Q: Would you speak more about your EV Live Wire. When will you launch it in India? Mackenzie:
We will launch the Live Wire in another 16 to 18 months, but we do not know whether the product will come to India. It depends on India’s infrastructure to support electric technology like charging stations. As a company, we will have the electric vehicle in our line-up.
Q: Is it possible for India to make all vehicles electric by 2030? Mackenzie:
Everything is possible, but the success will depend on the infrastructure. EVs are important, but we need coal-fired power plants to produce electricity. This creates an off-balance. There are numerous such factors involved to make this successful. And, I cannot speculate whether it will be viable in the next coming years.
Q: How do you see the competition in the Indian market. Many OEMs are making high capacity cruisers as well? Mackenzie:
I see this as an indicator that there are more market opportunities in India. The next few years are going to be growth years for the segment. But to face the competition, we have to play on our strengths. For example, Royal Enfield enjoys a good heritage in India, but with Harleys, it is the whole lifestyle experience that matters. We are also big on customisation which other makers do not provide on a larger scale.
Q: What is the road ahead of Harley-Davidson in India? Mackenzie:
With issues like GST, demonetisation and import duties behind us, we expect more stability in the market in 201819. We are planning to open at least 3 more dealerships to make ourselves more relevant and accessible to the potential customers. We have launched Softail in India recently. These and the previous Dyna platforms are now merged and in March we introduced 2 new variants- Softail Deluxe and Softail Super Low. We will concentrate on them now.