New Delhi: The country’s largest two-wheeler maker Hero MotoCorp, has set up a separate vertical for a “seamless transition and smooth running” of its new Harley-Davidson business, ET Auto has reliably learnt from multiple industry sources.
“Focused on ensuring a smooth transition for Harley customers, Hero MotoCorp has swiftly started putting together a strategic team comprising senior executives from across different key functions, including Sales, & After-sales, marketing, product development and finance,” a top industry executive familiar with the development, told ET Auto on condition of anonymity.
“This team has also been proactively engaging with the existing Harley dealers to ensure their integration into the core Hero distribution network well before the dealers’ contract with the American company comes to an end on December 31, he added.
According to sources, Hero is looking at bringing on board more than a dozen of the current Harley-Davidson dealers into its own fold across different geographical markets that would help extend services to the existing customers and help in the outreach of the new ones too.
When contacted, a Hero MotoCorp spokesperson declined to comment on the developments, saying that the Company will make an announcement at “an appropriate time soon.”
While around 10 Harley dealers in the country have already signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) with Hero MotoCorp, some more Harley dealers are “keen on joining Hero, considering the continuity and immense business opportunity that it presents. Hero may eventually accommodate about three to four more Harley dealers in its fold and this process is likely to be completed over the next week or 10 days,” another industry executive privy to the developments said.
Hero has put in place an extensive arrangement to ensure that every Harley owner in the country will continue to have a hassle-free experience, whether in terms of service or spare parts availability. However the state of affairs currently in terms of service and spare availability to the Harley customers could not be independently verified immediately.
“Hero MotoCorp is determined to ensure that the existing Harley bike users and potential buyers face absolutely no hassle during the transition and thereafter. The Company has been working on putting in place a sales, distribution and customer outreach programs that will be rolled out soon,” he added.
“The partnership with Harley is a very significant milestone in the premium journey of Hero, which the Company started about three years back with the launch of the XPulse and the Xtreme range of motorcycles. Both these motorcycles have been fairly successful and these brands have helped Hero to finally undertake a youthful makeover,” another industry source told ET Auto.
“The partnership between Hero and Harley is a win-win for both the entities. Harley could not have chosen a better partner than Hero in continuing its India presence, even while exiting this critical market with a hopeless scenario. Hero is the quintessential homegrown brand and understands the nook and corner of this market. With its extensive network of dealerships and service and spare parts outlets spread across the country, Hero may actually grow Harley’s presence in the India market – something that the American company could not achieve despite it long presence,” another source – a leading brand advisor with a prominent advertising firm that works with Hero – told ET Auto on condition of anonymity.
“Similarly, the licensing agreement, allowing Hero to develop Harley products for the India market is a huge endorsement by the global motorcycling giant of Hero’s in-house design, development and manufacturing capabilities. This is an unequivocal signal of the rapid progress that Hero has made in a short span of time since separating from its erstwhile technology partner Honda Motors of Japan in 2010-11,” he added.
Since the announcement of the Company’s exit, Harley’s existing dealers in the country had voiced their dissatisfaction with the compensation package offered by the Company. Their contracts with the US company runs till the end of the current calendar year. Many of these are also contemplating legal action against the American two wheeler entity on breach of trust and other proprietary issues.
Harley Davidson recently announced its exit from India as part of its global ‘Rewire’ strategy and soon after announced an alliance with the country’s largest two-wheeler maker Hero MotoCorp for sales, aftersales and new product development in India.
In October this year, Harley-Davidson and Hero MotoCorp announced that the two would ride together in India. Under the arrangement Hero besides managing the brand and sales in the domestic market is also likely to harness the technology and engines from the American company to pursue its plans to leapfrog into the lucrative premium and superbike segment.