Harley-Davidson exits India in blow to Modi’s foreign investment plans

US President Donald Trump and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi embrace during a joint news conference after bilateral talks at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, February 25, 2020. Trump had called India ‘tariff king’ and complained of the country’s high-tariffs for imports of the iconic motorcycle. — Reuters pic
US President Donald Trump and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi embrace during a joint news conference after bilateral talks at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, February 25, 2020. Trump had called India ‘tariff king’ and complained of the country’s high-tariffs for imports of the iconic motorcycle. — Reuters pic

NEW DELHI, Sept 24 — US motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson said today it will exit its India operations, the latest foreign automaker to pull out of the South Asian nation.

Wisconsin-based Harley-Davidson will shut down its manufacturing plant in the northern Indian state of Haryana and significantly reduce its sales office, the company said in a statement.

The firm said the move “discontinuing its sales and manufacturing operations in India” was part of a global overhaul of its operating model and market structure.

Harley-Davidson — which opened a plant in the world’s largest motorcycle market in 2011 — struggled with India’s 100 per cent import tariffs and cheaper local brand Hero MotoCorp as well as Honda Motorcycle, owned by Japan’s Honda Motor.

India, Asia’s third-largest economy, had also been experiencing slower consumer demand even before the crushing economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

US President Donald Trump had called India “tariff king” and complained of the country’s high-tariffs for imports of the iconic motorcycle.

India later slashed the tariffs by 50 per cent but the brand was unable to get traction in the notoriously challenging market.

The withdrawal from India is a blow to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” strategy, where he has urged foreign businesses to manufacture goods locally.

US auto giant Ford last year transferred its Indian assets to a joint venture with local behemoth Mahindra & Mahindra after failing to boost its low market share in the price-sensitive country.

In 2017, US automobile maker General Motors, unable to grow its negligible market share, said it would stop selling cars in India

India’s automobile market is dominated by Suzuki, which controls over 50 per cent of passenger vehicle sales with low-price cars for budget-conscious customers.

Automobile sales in the country, including two-wheelers and passenger vehicles rose for the first time in nine months in August. — AFP

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