Big operational changes in India are raising questions about the model's future.
At the end of July, 2020, Harley-Davidson introduced both its Q2 sales numbers and its new Hardwire strategy. A week into August, 2020, and it appears that we’re already seeing a sea change in the Motor Company’s Indian operations. The Economic Times of India reports that production at its Bawal, Haryana, factory is being slashed, and employees are being laid off.
As we mentioned in July, 2020—prior to the release of Q2 sales numbers—the company planned to get rid of around 500 additional jobs globally by the end of the year. It also planned to not fill around 200 positions that were already vacant at that time, for a total position loss of about 700 jobs.
The Bawal factory currently produces the Street 750 model exclusively, and has led Indian media to speculate about the Bawal factory being closed entirely. To add fuel to the firestorm of rumors that are currently swirling, regional managing director Sajeev Rajasekharan, is being transferred from India to Singapore.
Current speculation—which we must stress is thus far unconfirmed by Harley-Davidson—is that the company may stick to selling CBU (complete built-up) models in India going forward, and axe its production facilities there entirely. CBU vehicles differ from another acronym you may have heard, CKD (complete knocked-down), in that they’re imported as whole units. That generally makes them more expensive than CKD vehicles, which are assembled locally, resulting in a cost savings for purchasers. The Economic Times reached out to Harley-Davidson for comment, and was told it had none and that there would very likely not be one.
As rumors will, this has led publications both inside India and as far away as Italy to speculate about possible discontinuation of the Street 750 as a global model. Nothing is definite at this point, but we can say for certain that the price of that bike in India has now been slashed to INR 4.69 lakh, or US $6,291.46. For comparison purposes, that’s also the exact same price that Kawasaki asked for the Ninja 400 at its 2018 introduction to India.