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Hero's Munjal eyes premium segment

Last updated on: February 23, 2012 12:38 IST

Hero's Munjal eyes premium segment

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Sharmistha Mukherjee and Surajeet Dasgupta

Hero MotoCorp, the country's largest two-wheeler maker, has inked an agreement with US-based Erik Buell Racing to source high-end technology for developing new products, 14 months after its partnership with Honda Motor Corporation ended.

While the agreement with Honda had cemented Hero's footprint in the mass commuter segment, with the hugely popular Splendor and Passion, the company is now setting sights on the premium end after forging the new technological alliance.

Pawan Munjal, managing director and chief executive, Hero MotoCorp, outlined his vision for the company in an interview with Sharmistha Mukherjee and Surajeet Dasgupta.

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Image: Pawan Munjal, managing director and chief executive, Hero MotoCorp.


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Edited excerpts:

The agreement with Honda had ensured steady supply of technological assets which strengthen your position in the two-wheeler market in India. What kind of alliance are you looking at with EBR?

We are looking for multiple technological alliances, unlike a single joint venture partner we had earlier. We have formed a strategic partnership with EBR, which is a company based in the United States. The founder was a racer who started a company of his own to manufacture motorcycles.

The outfit is far ahead on technological assets. Our visions are similar, we want the best for our customers in terms of environment sustainability and the technology we offer.

In fact, Leap, the hybrid scooter we showcased at the Auto Expo, has been developed with the help of EBR.

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Image: We are looking for multiple technological alliances, says Munjal.


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When you talk of technological support, would it be limited to sourcing engine technology from your US partner?

We have formed a strategic partnership with EBR for various capabilities. We will work together on the supply chain and on technology across product lines.

They will provide us with engine technology. But what is more important is, they will help us in improving our own capability and enable us to become a self-sufficient engineering company.

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Image: Hero developed the Leap hybrid scooter.


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EBR is more into the performance biking segment. Does the tie-up mean Hero MotoCorp is looking at moving up the value chain?

The products we are working on with EBR would have more high-end technology. EBR itself has been into performance biking and we are gradually stepping up.

The technology we get from EBR for premium bikes can be considered for use in products in the mass segment, as well. But the competence we gain can be applied across product categories, be it scooters or motorcycles.

The first product we started working on with EBR was the hybrid scooter Leap. And, we are seriously working on producing it commercially.

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Image: The products we are working on with EBR would have more high-end technology, he says.


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The commuter segment has been the forte of the Hero Group. But the first product you introduced under the Hero brand has been the Impulse. Now, comes the agreement with EBR. Would we see more products from Hero in the premium category?

Our market was at the 100-cc category, but we are not restricting ourselves to that end. We are not switching segments, we will continue to work on those areas and upgrade technology there.

But we were completely missing from the premium end of the market. We will focus there. Moreover, our market is global now, we are not looking only at the domestic industry. So, whatever we design now, we will design keeping the global consumer in mind.

Hero has evinced interest in the hybrid space, what about electric two-wheelers?

We will stay with hybrid technology for now, because all other companies are working on electric two-wheelers. I was restricted earlier because of the JV with Honda. But being a responsible company, we will now look at eco-friendly technology.

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Image: Munjal says he will stick with hybrid technology, not electric two-wheelers.


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