While a partnership doesn't appear imminent, Hero Chairman Pawan Munjal was quoted by The Times of India saying that if Harley wants it, “The sooner it happens, it’s good for everyone.”
It would not be surprising that Harley-Davidson, the world’s largest maker of heavyweight motorcycles would want to collaborate with Hero, one of the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturers, to gain a better foothold in Asia.
A prototype of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle to be manufactured in China with Zheijiang Qianjiang Motorcycle Co. Ltd. for sale in Asia.
Harley has partnered with a Chinese manufacturer to build small bikes for China, and it opened an assembly plant in Thailand to produce most of the company's motorcycles sold in the European Union, China and Southeast Asia.
"This is the era of partnerships, and when the right kind of partnership comes our way, or we are able to get around to one, we would be willing to do that," Munjal was quoted as saying.
India is an important market for Harley-Davidson, especially as it continues to develop smaller, more versatile motorcycles and its U.S. sales have declined for 12 consecutive quarters.
The company is committed to having a more accessible bike in India, but anything else is "rumors and speculation," said Harley-Davidson spokeswoman Patricia Sweeney.
Hero has a history in Wisconsin, having once owned a 49% share of the former EBR Racing, a motorcycle manufacturer in East Troy founded by former Harley executive and motorcycle racer Erik Buell.
Eight years ago, Hero brought in Buell bike designers from East Troy to work with its 300-member research team in India. Hero also had a technology agreement with Buell for engineering support and sponsored Buell’s U.S. racing team.
Hero was formerly known as Hero Honda, a joint venture with Honda Motor Co. that ended in 2010. After the split, Hero shopped for a new technology partner and found Buell. The partnership also gave Hero a presence in the U.S. marketplace.
The partnership didn’t last long, though, as Buell closed its East Troy plant in 2015 with bikes left unfinished on the assembly line and the company filing for Chapter 128 receivership, a state court procedure similar to bankruptcy.
EBR was the sequel to Erik Buell Racing, which was a sequel to Buell Motorcycle Co., which Harley-Davidson owned for more than a decade before dropping the brand in 2008.
SOURCE: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel