We recently caught up with Mr. Anoop Prakash, MD, Harley-Davidson India and spoke on length about the company and its immediate future plans for the domestic market. Mr. Prakash needs no introduction, he has spearheaded the American automaker’s India journey right from onset and was formerly an Intelligence Officer at the US Marine Corps. Here are some pointers from our conversation with him.
On Harley-Davidson’s India Journey – Announced India entry plans in 2009, started sales in 2010, commenced local assembly of Sportster range in 2011, Dyna motorcycles like Fat Bob were launched in 2012, CKD operations for Softail models like Fat Boy and Heritage started in 2013, Street 750 launch in 2014 while Street 500 will come in 2015.
On Harley-Davidson’s Brand Strategy – Believe in accessibility and thus invested heavily in CKD operations (the only plant outside the US is in India). Cost savings passed on to customers as thus huge price reductions when local assembly of the Softail range started in India. SuperLow price came down from Rs. 7 lakhs to 5.7 lakhs when CKD of Sportster range started. Partnered with HDFC and ICICI bank to make it easy for customers to finance their Harleys.
On The Recently Spied XR1200 – The bike did not belong to Harley-Davidson but was probably a customer bike. No such plans to bring back the XR1200.
On The Street Motorcycles – Global investment and the highest for Harley-Davidson after the V-ROD. All new platform with a new chassis, new powertrain, new components and new suppliers (Street bikes share no parts with other Harley-Davidson bikes). Street project started in 2008, aimed to fulfil demand caused by urbanisation. Heavy research in all markets with 3000 customer surveys in 10 countries. To be manufactured in Kansas City and Bawal Haryana, the Street motorcycles will be exported to Asia and Europe from India.
On Street 750 Marketing – To be unveiled at the India Bike Week 2014. Will be marketed aggressively and thus only the Street 750 comes in 2014 to enable better communication with prospects. Road shows to be conducted and like other Harley-Davidson models, test rides will be available through every outlet. The Street will be introduced throughout the year to customers. Terrific response on digital properties with thousand of inbound requests.
On Street 750 – Enthusiasts in India wanted the 750 more than the 500. To be priced under Rs. 5 lakhs (on-road). 5th February launch, bookings open on the same date, deliveries start in June. Range of accessories will be available for the motorcycle and accessorised models will be showcased. The Street 750 has a light steering, is easy to ride and park. It’s effortless and enjoyable in the urban environment but it’s still every inch a Harley with the style, engine, sound all being in-line with the company’s philosophy.
On Street 500 – Launch in 2015 but production of both Street bikes will commence at the same time. Will be exported initially. Both Street 750 and Street 500 are the same except the powertrain which is different among these bikes. Although Indian market respnded more towards the Street 750, the Street 500 was made as it also serves licensing requirements in some markets (Europe, USA, etc).
On Product Cannibalisation – Street buyers are different from regular Harley buyers but a person looking to buy a Street 750 might get interested in an Iron 883 and vice versa. The company has sold 4000 units in India till date and plans to increase it further with the Street range of affordable bikes.
On Emerging Market Specific Products (300cc?) – No such plans to launch a smaller bike than the Street 500. A 300cc or so bike was a complete rumour. Harley-Davidson doesn’t make bikes for a single market, they never have and they never will as it doesn’t make economic sense. The company makes bikes for a customer segment and not a single market.
On Street Sales Target – No target in mind, will ship as much as possible. Expected to sell between 7000-10,000 units in 2014 the world over. 5 markets in 2014, more markets in 2015, global product and thus will be sold in all markets Harley is present.
On Competition (Triumph) – No real competition for Street as competitors don’t have any products to offer in front of the Street 750. However competition is a good thing as it helps in market development. With Triumph’s entry, the market will also grow and they will also help in market development, making people understand what leisure biking is, the sole onus of which was currently on Harley-Davidson.
On Cost Of Ownership – Very important to have lost cost of ownership and thus Street parts and accessories will be cheaper than that of other Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Parts to be priced relative to the cost of the bike. Since HDs entry into India, labour prices haven’t been increased to maintain low ownership costs for owners.
On Dealer Expansion – 13 dealers currently, 3 more to be opened in 2014. Entering 3 new cities in 2015. Bringing new concept dealerships like the new 7 Island Dealership in Navi Mumbai (one of the best in the world) which is a place where bikers can hang out as well. These dealerships are huge and can display a large number of motorcycles along with accessories and sitting area.
On Future Models – Current focus on the Street bikes but Harley-Davidson refreshes its range every year and when new products come in the global lineup, they will be considered for India as well.
On HDFS – Isn’t coming to India as the volumes aren’t there and the regulatory framework is too much of an hassle. HDFS stands for Harley-Davidson Financial Services.