Harley-Davidson owners' group on Sunday conducted protest rallies called 'Dark Rides' in as many as 14 cities in the country against the decision of the American motorcycle company to pull out of India, and in a bid to show support to Harley-Davidson dealers who say they have been left in the lurch by the decision of an India exit.
Harley-Davidson in September had announced it will stop sales and manufacturing operations in India as part of its 'Rewire' strategy. The American motorcycle company has been struggling the world over but has failed to find a solid foothold in India since it first came here in 2009. The decision to exit the country has come as a blow to dealers as well as existing customers, many of whom claim that they are struggling to get their premium bikes repaired or even serviced.
Sunday's protest rides were held in Ludhiana, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Lucknow, Delhi, Gurgaon, Jaipur, Indore, Bhopal, Raipur, Kolkata, Bhubaneswar, Mumbai and Guwahati. Many of the participating in these rides outlined that while getting spare parts for their bikes had become difficult over the last several months, it is the 'unfair treatment' to dealers that also concerns them.
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Dealers of the iconic brand have also alleged that they were caught unawares and that the 'compensation' offered is inadequate. "The move to close Harley Davidson operations would cause huge losses to dealers in India who have invested crores in the business," said Deepesh Tanwar, Ex HOG director who, in support of the dealers, resigned from the directorship. "The common consumers who have brought the bike would lose out to riding experience they bought the bike for."
While Harley-Davidson has entered into a partnership with Hero MotoCorp which would allow the Indian company to develop and sell a range of premium motorcycles under the Harley-Davidson brand name, the angst is only gaining momentum.
Harley-Davidson, on its part, has assured that it has and will continue to reach out to customers. "As we change our business model in India, we are pleased to be continuing our journey in the country together with Hero MotoCorp. We are working closely with Hero to ensure a smooth transition for our riders," said Sajeev Rajasekharan, Managing Director – Asia Emerging Markets & India, Harley-Davidson.