Iconic US bike brand Harley-Davidson is not worried about the Indian icon, Royal Enfield’s upcoming 750cc bike that will be pitched against its entry-level Street.
“We came into India and helped create the biking culture… We taught how to ride in groups rather than riding solo,” said Vikram Pawah, MD, Harley-Davidson India, on Tuesday as the cocmpany launched two bikes and a new engine.
The company is however not taking things lightly. All Harely’s bikes will be equipped with anti-lock braking systems (ABS) in view of the upcoming stringent safety norms for large-engined vehicles. The new Milwaukee-Eight engine showcased on Tuesday will also deliver more power and better fuel efficiency, but would be available only in the high-end touring bikes.
Going back to Enfield -- did the Bullet help Harley in India? Pawah pooh-poohed the suggestion. “You should ask him (Royal Enfield MD Siddhartha Lal) if Harley helped in reviving their brand,” he said.
Royal Enfield, whose sales have been growing at 40%-plus in recent years, was turned around by Lal early last decade after years of plummeting popularity arising from ageing technology, poor servicing and fuel efficiency and high maintenance cost.
Lal, CEO and MD of Eicher (which owns Royal Enfield) had earlier told HT, “The foreign brands are not making much headway… they may be selling just a few hundred units a month.” He plans to launch at least one bike every year.
Meanwhile, Harley’s year-on-year sales growth stayed flat between April and September at 2,170 units. The launch on Tuesday of the Roadster at ₹9.7 lakh may help stimulate demand. ”The leisure biking industry is just 0.5%, but it is growing faster than ever before,” Pahwah said. In the last few years, the Street 750 has been Harley’s runaway success, accounting for 50% of its sales, but Pahwah said there are no plans to bring more products in the category, explaining the rationale behind introducing the larger Roadster
“When riders tell us they want different riding styles in the 750 cc category, we will bring in more products,” he said.