‘We’ll do all it takes to win the mid-size bike segment’

After the X 440 launch on Monday, Jochen Zeitz, president & CEO of Harley-Davidson; and Pawan Munjal, executive chairman and whole-time director, Hero MotoCorp, spoke to Vikram Chaudhary on the way ahead for both the companies. Excerpts:

You have a decent number of customers in India in the 750cc and above category. Who will service their bikes in case needed?

Jochen Zeitz: Our international motorcycles that are sold in India by Hero are being serviced by it as well since 2020, and that will continue.

In the 250-500cc midsize segment, Royal Enfield has an about 93% market share and is an established player. How do you plan to make your presence felt in this tough segment?

Pawan Munjal: I don’t know of any other established player that has 120 years of history. I would say Harley-Davidson is the most established motorcycle brand in the world. It may be its first time in this segment, but the co-creation that has been done by engineers from Milwaukee, CIT Jaipur and Hero Tech Centre in Germany is one of the best in the world. It is going to elevate Hero’s premiumisation strategy. There are thousands of customers who want to buy Harley-Davidson but the brand has always been out of their reach, but now it will be affordable and we do expect fairly large number of buyers.

How will you be selling the X 440?

Pawan Munjal: It will be sold via the current Harley-Davidson and select Hero dealerships to start with. 

The idea is to reach the customers even in smaller cities, and there are some select Hero dealerships in places where we believe there are a lot of buyers but where there are no Harley-Davidson dealerships.

Will there be multiple body types on this platform, and will there also be a Hero-branded bike on this platform

Pawan Munjal: Hero is developing its own bike with the Hero badge on the same platform, which we will be launching in the Q4 of this fiscal. The bike will have different styling, different features, different performance and an altogether different identity compared to the X 440. We will also be providing different consumers different kinds of bikes.

Do we see this partnership to explore electrification as well?

Pawan Munjal: Right now the focus clearly is on this platform, and we want to prove ourselves in this segment. We are going one step at a time.

Jochen Zeitz: Our electrification strategy falls under a separate brand listed on the NYSE called the LiveWire.

Harley-Davidson’s global sales have been falling from 2017 to 2022. How much will the X 440 be able to arrest those falling sales?

Jochen Zeitz: In 2020, we had said that we will focus on profitability, because there is no point in selling unit when there is little profitability. So we don’t have an obsession with sales now and our profitability has gone up. Harley-Davidson announced its Q1 

2023 financial results and consolidated revenue was up 20% over the same period in 2021.

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