Iconic U.S. motorcycle firm Harley-Davidson is to abandon the world’s largest motorcycle market with its decision to pull out of India.
In reports from industry insiders, the brand is now in the process of ceasing manufacturing altogether on the subcontinent, and will also reduce is regional sales operations in the coming weeks and months.
It is believed the company took the decision in response to domestic moves by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government imposing increasingly high tax levies on foreign manufacturers in the past few months.
Japanese auto-industry giant Toyota had already announced a similar move by saying it would no longer be looking to expand in the country, and will rely on existing operations.
The loss of the Harley manufacturing operations in India will lead to the cutting of around 70 jobs and a US$75m loss brought about by the closure of its Bawal plant in the north of the country.
As the largest motorcycle and scooter market in the world, India sees annual sale of around 17 million units, but with local brand Hero and hugely popular Japanese makers already well established in India, Harley-Davidson had found it difficult to gain a toehold in the market since starting operations in India in 2011.
The company even had saw the personal intervention of U.S. President Donald Trump lead nowhere. Mr. Trump highlighted taxes on the luxury bikes of Harley-Davidson bikes earlier in his presidency when citing the Narendra government tariffs, even labeling India a “tariff king”.
As a result, India did reduce taxes on the brand to 50% in 2018, although for President Trump this rate was “still unacceptable”.