Harley-Davidson Street Rod
How’s the Street Rod doing, both globally and in India?
The Street Rod is doing very well, and we’ve received positive reviews both here in India and globally. It’s designed to appeal to a younger demographic, and it’s been successfully doing that. Being a customer-led organisation, we want to make sure that we’re not only continuing to engage with our current riders, but also attracting new riders to the brand.
Brand Harley-Davidson has diehard followers, but, nowadays with so much competition, how do you bring in new customers to the brand?
Well, we’re market leaders in the 600cc-and-above segment. The Indian Automobile Industry body, SIAM, has consistently put us at the number one position there. It’s a combination of a great dealer network, and continuing to build on great people and resources. Plus, the new Softail family will help us maintain our number one position here in India.
Which member of the Softail family do you think will make a mark in India?
The Softail family is one of the great examples how Harley-Davidson has reinvented itself. The new Softail family will now appeal to a broader demographic of riders. Also, the good reviews that we’re receiving will help us build the next generation of Harley-Davidson riders.
After launching a new range of bikes, engines, and also improving build quality, what’s the next frontier for the brand?
I think it’s all about sporting the brand of leisure riding. This is something that we’ve always advocated for, and now you can see many other manufacturers are jumping on our coattails as they’re now trying to promote the leisure riding segment. For us, it’s all about bringing great new products and an authentic Harley-Davidson experience to both current and future customers – and, of course, growing that leisure riding culture.
Globally, what happens to motorcycling in the future where people are talking about autonomous cars? Plus, there are so many city centres now saying that they won’t allow in any vehicles unless they’re EVs.
I think there will still be a place for petrol motorcycles. We always listen to our customers – and what their needs and desires are. I think the Harley Davidson Street 750 is a very good example of that, as it’s the first time we’ve produced such a small displacement motorcycle with an urban appeal that is aimed at a youthful audience. Some time back, we had developed an EV motorcycle – the LiveWire – and the purpose for that was to receive feedback from our customers to see if it fulfills their expectations and fits their needs. Moving forward, we’re putting preparations in place and potential products in the line up. I think its more a case of are our cities ready for full EV technology. Charging stations need to exist, commonality of charging styles and plugs need to be rationalised, and so on.
The new range of Harley-Davidson bikes look more edgy than classic. What’s the feedback that you’ve received from customers over this new approach?
I don’t think we’ve received any negative feedback. As of now they’ve been very positive and encouraging. What really shines through is that some of the design cues in the new Softail lineup go all the way back to the 1950s’. You see the authentic Harley-Davidson DNA coming through, but you can see we’ve added a modern touch to it. So I think it’s a great combination of maintaining history and inheriting DNA, and, at the same time, creating a modern appeal.
In the new lineup, there’s a distinct improvement in quality. Is this a conscious effort made by the brand?
Yes, this is the company’s largest motorcycle lineup with a new chassis, engine, and frame, which is a lot more rigid than the previous one, with improved performance and handling – basically improved in every aspect. Therefore, a great deal of consideration, thought and investment has gone into this new platform.
In terms of a global priority list for Harley-Davidson, where does India fit in?
India is a significant piece in our international strategy. We have a commitment of setting up 150 dealerships here over the next few years. So far this year, we’ve opened four new dealers.
From a model standpoint, what’s the plan for next year?
If you look at our Sportster lineup and products that have come out, like the Street 750 and Roadster, as well as the cruiser and touring platform, all I can say is that we continue to bring out great products and we’ll try and build a Harley-Davidson suitable for every age, every rider and every demographic.