Cult American bike maker Harley Davidson will play a “very important role” in growing Hero MotoCorp‘s presence in the premium motorcycle segment, said Pawan Munjal, chairman, Hero MotoCorp, mirroring the increasing engagement between India and the US as they seek to counter China’s influence on the global stage.
Munjal, who spoke to ET ahead of the global debut of the first motorcycle the X440 co-developed by the two companies, said while the immediate priority is to ensure that the product is accepted by consumers in India, there is always room to expand the scope of the partnership globally.
“Once we have proven ourselves with the product and satisfied our customers (here), there are always possibilities of talking and discussing the future,” said Munjal. While the Harley Davidson X440, priced between ₹2.29-2.69 lakh, will be sold through the company’s exclusive outlets and some premium dealerships of the Indian company, a product under the Hero badge on the same platform will be launched later in the fourth quarter of this fiscal year.
In fact, Hero MotoCorp, which has long ruled Indian roads with best-selling commuter motorcycles like Splendor and Passion, has lined up a slew of launches to get to its “rightful place” in the premium motorcycle segment. Munjal said, “Today, we have a very small market share (in the premium segment). Harley plays a very important role for us in this entire premium strategy. While we already have put out some products there, which are very successful, such as the Xpulse. Going forward, there are more coming. With Harley there clearly, as I said earlier, there’s a huge amount of learning for us in the development of large size engines.”
While demand for entry bikes has remained subdued amid weak consumer sentiments in rural markets, those for premium motorcycles has witnessed strong recovery post Covid with young, aspirational buyers looking at purchasing two-wheelers not just for daily commute but the whole experience of motorcycling . This is prompting two-wheeler makers like Harley Davidson and Hero MotoCorp to make a beeline in the space now dominated by Royal Enfield in the Indian market, industry stakeholders said.
Sales of motorcycles with engine capacity ranging upwards of 250cc to 750 cc, in fact, rose 38% last fiscal, more than double of the overall two-wheeler category, shows data available with industry body Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).
The X440 and the yet-to-be launched motorcycle from Hero MotoCorp will be positioned in a segment which chips in a third to volumes and half of overall revenues/ profits in the premium motorcycle market. Munjal said, “Our aim is to cover a majority of the premium segment by revenue, and therefore you can actually very well imagine what that would mean. For instance, even this product that we are launching, actually it’s in a segment which is broadly 1/3 of premium volume, but half of premium profits and revenues. So that’s the significance of this and there are other segments as well. So by revenue we want to cover majority of the premium market in the next three to four years itself.”