NEW DELHI: The biggest Harley-Davidson brand ambassadors in India will step out on Sunday to protest the company’s decision to pull out of the country. The multi-city rally has been named ‘Dark Ride’ and will have 1,000 members of the HOG, or Harley Owners Group, and most of the iconic American brand’s 30 or so dealers in India.
HOG is easily one of the best-known motorcycle marketing initiatives in the world, providing owners with a common platform to ride, bond, and explore as the big Harley family. But as the company closes factories in India and moves to a partnership with Hero MotoCorp, riders and dealers alike are worried.
While bicycle owners are concerned about the availability of spare parts and maintenance, dealers are unsure of their future as their investments worth rupee crores may be lost if Hero does not support them or if Harley refuses “credible severance pay”.
Organizers announced that Sunday’s protest rally will be held in Delhi, Gurgaon, Indore, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Kolkata, Guwahati, Ludhiana, Chandigarh, Raipur and Jaipur.
Ajay Tiwari, a businessman from Bhopal who has spent over Rs 30 lakh on his Harley Heritage Softail model, says there has been a shortage of parts in the past six months. “I suspect it’s because the liquidation process may have started earlier. I really don’t know if I should keep my bike or sell it now – which I guess will get me some peanuts.”
The company has sent out an insurance email to all of the customers, but many of them are dissatisfied and say they “feel cheated” by Harley’s decision to quit solo operations.
“Harley is handing over the brand to Hero who has a different cycling culture. It’s… a huge disappointment,” said Harveen Bali, Delhi-based businessman and rider.
Surbhi Manocha, a Bhopal-based pro who owns a Harley Street 750 (India entry model), said she would regret the camaraderie Harley riders share with each other if the dealership closes. “On Sunday, we will be riding and talking about our protest on social media platforms as well.” The dealers are also angry. Many call it “a serious breach of trust and betrayal”.
Harley is supposed to pay dealers a compensation of Rs 1,500 per square foot of their showroom and service area (minus depreciation), with the exception of a three month margin to those who join Hero, or six months to those who are not. Harley did not respond to a list of questions put to them by YOU.
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