Harley-Davidson announced on Thursday that it is closing its manufacturing operations in India, the biggest motorcycle market in the world. It will be massively scaling back its sales operations, as well.
The company is changing its business model in India and evaluating options to continue to serve its customers,” the company said in a statement on Thursday, adding that it was “communicating with its customers in India and will keep them updated on future support.
Harley’s departure involves $75 million in restructuring costs, making round 70 staff redundant and the closure of its Bawal plant in northern India. It will continue to operate factories in the US, Brazil and Thailand.
Harley Davidson came into India with much fanfare in 2011. But it has since, struggled to find a foothold in one of the world’s most lucrative two-wheeler markets. With sales averaging under 3,000 units every year, the iconic American brand simply couldn’t capitalize on the big Asia opportunity it was betting on.
Experts in the auto industry said that Harley-Davidson has battled against high taxes and low-cost competitors. U.S. President Donald Trump has previously complained about India’s high taxes, specifically mentioning the levies placed on Harley-Davidson bikes. India’s import tariffs were slashed by 50% but the brand has still struggled in the competitive market. The lifestyle element that goes with owning a Harley bike has just not fully developed in India yet.
Harley has also been suffering its own problems and reported a loss of $96 million between April and June this year. Its first quarterly loss in more than a decade. It has been cutting hundreds of jobs under its new chief executive Jochen Zeitz and focusing on core markets and models.
The iconic US motorcycle brand was founded in 1903 and has built a very loyal customer base. It has owners’ clubs all over the world. It hit the global stage in 1969 thanks to the classic road movie Easy Rider starring Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson.
Harley has been looking to grow the brand beyond baby boomers in the US, with smaller models and all-electric versions.