Harley-Davidson will probably try to forget about this year as soon as possible. In February, she lost her one-year executive director, Matthew Levatich, who was replaced by German Jochen Zeitz. In the second quarter of 2020, the company ended up in a loss for the first time in the last decade. Its sales fell by 47 percent compared to the previous quarter, and Harley lost $ 92 million, about 2.1 billion crowns. The corporation subsequently laid off hundreds of its employees.
It is now leaving the lucrative market in India after nine years. As a result, it will lose another $ 75 million and eliminate about 70 jobs. The value of the company’s shares fell by 1.39 percent on Friday in response to the report. The iconic biker brand will be gradually withdrawn from the country. For the time being, it has stopped production here and is massively reducing the volume of its sales operations.
Harley-Davidson is another large foreign company that has failed in the Asian state. In 2017, the American carmaker General Motors left India. Ford didn’t do very well here either. Last year, as part of its survival in the market, it joined forces with the local giant motor vehicle manufacturer Mahindra & Mahindra. Japan’s Toyota has also recently complained about high taxes that complicate business.
“India is a high-volume and low-profit market. Harley was not ready to play this game, to be right at the top of the pyramid, “explains Hormazd Sorabjee, an Indian journalist from the Autocar India server. “In addition, the lifestyle associated with owning a Harley motorcycle is not fully developed in India,” he adds. According to Sorabjee, the American company was unable to compete with local brands such as Hero and cope with the high tax burden and considerable import duties. Other foreign corporations face the same problem.
Harley’s departure will not have much of an impact on the Indian economy. However, it is a bad business card for the government of Narender Modi. The Indian prime minister has long tried in vain to make India a base for multinational car and motorcycle companies. Its ministers even plan to invest $ 23 billion in the industry, more than 535.5 billion crowns. At the same time, it complicates the ongoing negotiations between India and the United States on freer trade between them.
Harley-Davidson motorcycles have been manufactured since 1903 and have a cult status among fans of two-wheeled vehicles. Their widespread popularity grew especially after 1969 thanks to the Hollywood film Carefree Ride by director Dennis Hopper, who also played one of the main roles. Apart from the USA, they are very popular, for example, in Brazil, Thailand or South Korea. In recent years, the brand has been trying to appeal mainly to the young generation. It has therefore recently started to produce lighter models and partly switch to electric propulsion.