Why Did Harley Davidson Fail In India?

Why Did Harley Davidson Fail In India?


The legendary American cruiser bike manufacturer has sold less than 30,000 units in India in
ten years. That’s the equivalent of half of what Royal Enfield sells in a month. So what went
wrong, exactly?

A tremendous churn in corporate board rooms across sectors and countries has resulted from
the worst epidemic in 100 years. It’s specially heated for Harley Davidson, the legendary
American cruiser bike manufacturer based in Milwaukee. Already struggling to retain young
clients in countries worldwide, the pandemic has merely accelerated the need for
reorganization. To stay viable, Harley-Davidson aims to cut its product portfolio in half and
shrink its global reach to 50 profitable regions.

Founded in1903
FoundersWilliam Davidson, Walter Davidson, Arthur Davidson, and William Harley.
HeadquartersMilwaukee, Wisconsin, united states

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The company celebrated a decade in the market only last August, but longevity is no
guarantee of success. In the past ten years, Harley-Davidson has sold just over 27,000
motorcycles in the United States, whereas segment leader Royal Enfield sells twice every
month. It sold about 2,480 motorcycles last fiscal year and only roughly 100 motorcycles in
the first quarter of the current fiscal year. It’s also not lucrative, and there’s little indication
that things will improve soon. Like other American automakers such as GM and Ford,
Harley-Davidson found the going tough in India. The departure door is closer than it has ever
been. What went wrong for the company was as follows:

Why Did Harley Davidson Fail In India?

Expensive Bikes Have No Market In India

On paper, India is one of the world’s largest two-wheeler marketplaces. Last fiscal, more than 17 million two-wheelers were sold in the market than anywhere else on the planet. However, there is a market for tiny commuter machines designed for intracity runabouts that cost less, are easy to maintain, and are dirt cheap to run, not for large burly and noisy pleasure bikes, which Harley excels at. Motorcycles, scooters, and mopeds with engines under 150cc account for more than 90% of them. The superbike category, which includes machines larger than 500cc and where Harley operates, is capped at slightly over 25,000 units per year. Simply put, Harley isn’t made for India.

Portfolio Of Harley Davidson With Gaps

The 750cc Street 750, which costs Rs 4.7 lakh, is India’s smallest and cheapest Harley motorbike. On the other hand, the 1923cc CVO Limited, which costs more than half a crore, is the most expensive in the complete collection, including more than a dozen bikes. Even with great financing options, this price puts a Harley beyond reach for most Indians. The company’s delay in bringing out lower displacement and more inexpensive bikes for emerging countries like India did not help matters. It also lacked off-roaders like Triumph and KTM and out-and-out sports bikes like BMW. As a result, Harley was trapped in a niche and limited section of the market, which would have been anathema to purists if it had been marketed under the Harley logo.

Royal Enfield Captured The Market

In India, Harley Davidson faced a formidable competitor in the Royal Enfield, and it fell far short of the local competition. Over the last ten years, Enfield’s growth implies that Harley’s arrival only aided it. According to its owner Siddhartha Lal, the loudness and interest surrounding Harley Davidson when it first reached India gave cruiser motorcycling a new impetus in India. Customers looked at Harleys and drooled over them before opting for the Enfield’s less expensive, lighter, and easier to maintain. What damaged the American corporation the most was that the Indian brand did not disappear. Enfield released newer models like the Himalayan off-roader without the baggage of having to create cruisers solely. With the dual cylinder 650cc Interceptor twins, it has recently ventured into Harley territory. Enfield was also ripe for the taking, and with such a significant market share, even a minor dent would have been enough to keep Harley afloat. However, it never even gave it a chance. Harley is always dismissive yet has no answer for the good old Enfield.

Harley Was Inappropriate for India: Roads & Overall Performance

Another primary reason Harley-sales Davidson’s in India did not meet expectations was that many customers believed the company’s suspension and chassis were not appropriately tuned for India’s pothole-ridden roads. The most visible flaws are faulty brakes and burned clutch plates, and fixing or replacing them is no easy feat. Customers narrate their horrifying experiences on social networking platforms, including parts unavailable from dealers for weeks, high servicing costs, and repeated failures. Harley-Davidson has had to issue recalls many times to address these issues. While the R-word is no longer taboo in India, it did not help the company’s trust. The consensus was that the motorcycles were not designed to handle the rough and tumble of Indian roads. “When customers spent Rs 10 lakh or more on a bike, they expected a hassle-free ownership experience. Instead, they discovered that they had a high-maintenance white elephant on their hands, “According to a former firm dealer. “It was not well received by them.” What has happened to Harley in India hasn’t surprised him.


In the end, Harley is in a bad situation, and Harley fans, owners, enthusiasts, and dealers in India are disappointed. It remains to be seen whether Hero (who was tossed to the curb a few years ago) steps in to save the day and how the Harley narrative plays out in that scenario.

What prompted Harley to leave India?

The failure of Miami-based UM Motorcycles in India in 2019 cost its dealers around Rs 150 crore. Poor sales and low demand were also suggested for the Renegade cruiser’s demise.

What was the date Harley left India?

Milwaukee, a Wisconsin-based motorcycle manufacturer, is currently undergoing a rapid shift. According to reports, the company fled the country without a plan. From January 2021, Harley Davidson India will be run by Hero MotoCorp, India’s largest two-wheeler manufacturer.

Is Harley returning to India?

Harley-Davidson motorcycles have returned to India, with the initial batch being sold out. After the two-wheeler manufacturer from the United States chose to close its operations in India, Harley-Davidson partnered with Hero MotoCorp to distribute its bikes.

Did Indians sue Harley?

In the mid-nineteenth century, Indians sued Harley-Davidson after noticing a carburetor of his invention on one of their new models. Indian suspected Harley of plagiarising their carburetor design; thus, Indian sued them for stealing their carburetor design.

In India, how many Harley-Davidsons are there?

Around 680 Harley Davidson motorcycles were sold in India in the fiscal year 2021. This sales volume has been steadily decreasing since the fiscal year 2017. It has sold around 28,000 motorcycles in India since its entry.

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