India is mostly known for Mohandas Gandhi, who fought for Indian independence with non-violence.
But, in Hyderabad last week it was the sight of a near mob scene thanks to Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao or more popularly known as Jr. NTR. The film actor was present for the inauguration of the first Harley-Davidson showroom opening in the country. You can watch the pandemonium HERE.
Should we care? Given that one of the major tenants of Mr. Wandell (CEO) and Harley-Davidson board’s growth strategy being international expansion I think it’s fair to follow India’s success. India has culture, spiritualism, yoga, spices, multiple languages and now Harley-Davidson Hyderabad. With four more dealer/showrooms in the pipeline at Chandigarh, followed by New Delhi then Mumbai and Bangalore the motor company could be set to capitalize on any untapped heavy cruiser market. Clearly the company is betting on India to help grow sales.
Interesting to me is that India is the world’s second-largest motorcycle market. However, most sales are of small, inexpensive scooters that can weave through traffic in the heavily clogged cities. India does have some open roads outside the large cities but many are marred with potholes and don’t make for easy riding. As part of Harley’s long-term commitment to the country they chose to enter India as a subsidiary rather than through a pre-existing dealer network. With the motorcycles being made in the U.S. and shipped to India they face hefty custom duties. In fact, the cost of a basic Sportster starts at 695,000 rupees ($14,917)… all this does make one wonder just how many India customers are willing to pay for ownership bragging rights.
I also found it intriguing that buried in the announcement was the point that the company plans to relocate a 20-year service veteran from Harley’s headquarters. Talk about a culture change… Miller vs. India Pale Ale (IPA).
UPDATE: July 14, 2010 — Anoop Prakash (H-D Managing Director, India) told reporters during an announcement about securing the ICICI Bank for vehicle financing that the size of the market (800cc and larger) for 2009 was about 700 units and was growing at double digits.
Photo courtesy of HD and TV5.