Case Study | UM Motorcycles: the story of dissatisfied dealers

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UM's Renegade Commando

UM Motorcycles’ silent farewell left their customers in a fix. Not just the customers but their dealers as well.

Their dealers were left high and dry after an investment of almost Rs 150 crores in the business, while more than 10,000 customers are left high and dry with motorcycles with no spares.

The company last contacted its dealers back in December 2018. That was when the firm invited its dealers for a meet in Delhi to showcase their numerous upcoming projects and products.

A deposit was made by more than half the dealers there to the company for these new products. However, from that point on, the company became defunct in the country.

UM showcased its products in India at the Delhi Auto Expo in 2014. The Miami-based company launched four products at the expo, which included three cruisers and a street-naked bike. They varied from a range of 125cc to 223cc.

After that expo, there was a gap of seven years. UM announced a joint venture with Lohia Auto. The JV confirmed an investment of Rs 120 crores and a manufacturing target of one lakh per annum at Lohia Auto’s Uttarakhand plant.

The JV finally released three bikes at the Auto Expo 2016. However, nothing was good about the motorcycles: uninspiring performance and unreliability because the engine was squished with issues.

The customers were jammed with problems with these motorcycles, but instead of solving these problems, UM went on to launch special editions in October 2017.

Not only customers faced issues, but also the dealers. The UM dealers, along with the Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations of India (FADA), wrote to the PM’s office and Allied Ministries.

A dealer said that when the motorcycles came to the market, there were numerous issues. Dealers backed the company and repaired the problems out of their own pockets. The dealer also added that there have been cases where the entire engine cabinet was replaced from their pockets.

They are still in the same position; as they were with inventory and spares, which are now redundant because of build quality problems.

Suddenly, the company halted its production of new units and discontinued the supply of spares for service. No communication was made about the company’s future, and this left them in a fix.

Jose Villegas, UM’s American official, started his venture named Panther MotoCorp in Hyderabad said the UM dealer.

UM Motorcycles have made an extremely disappointing exit from India. It drops the company’s ethics into question. Hopefully, it announces a comeback in the future, apologizing to its customer and dealers.

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