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The first Hero-developed bike in 2013

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Hero set to launch own bike sans Honda tech in 2013

(source: The Times of india)

NEW DELHI: Nearly a-year-and-a-half after splitting with long-time partner Honda Motor of Japan, homegrown Hero group of Munjals is close to scripting a solo ride as it will launch its first bike, sans Honda technology, next year. The two-wheeler will be built by Hero's newly-established in-house R&D set-up that will work in tandem with the company's three overseas technology partners.

"We are working aggressively on this front and the first Hero-developed product should be out in 2013-14," Anil Dua, Sr V-P (marketing & sales) at Hero MotoCorp Ltd, told TOI here.

Hero, that has the option of using Honda's badging and technology till June 2014, has been working over-time to shed its association with its erstwhile Japanese partner. The company has dropped the Honda tag from its products earlier than scheduled and is focusing on quick independent product rollout. The new products will include motorcycles and scooters and are expected to be across the price spectrum of the two-wheeler industry.

Hero's R&D set-up is still in a fledgling stage as the company develops a full-blown facility in Rajasthan with an investment of Rs 400 crore. The new facility, spread over a 250-acre area, will employ over 500 engineers and will be operational in the second half of next year. Apart from its own set-up, Hero has also sticthed up ties with US-based Erik Buell Racing (EBR), Austrian engine developer AVL and Italian two-wheeler design firm Engines Engineering. "Our R&D will be doing the lion's share as far as the development of the bike is concerned," Dua said.

Hero and Honda had been promoter partners in the vastly-successful JV, Motors Ltd (HHML), that lasted for 26 years before heading for splitsville in 2011. Analysts had doubted Hero's ability to roll out new products on its own after the exit of Honda as the Japanese company was the sole technology supplier to the JV.

Dua, however, said the new independent products from the Hero stable will be as efficient as the company's existing products. "We will meet our own proven standards in terms of manufacturing quality, durability, re-sale value, fuel efficiency and running cost." Hero's solo strategy comes in as Honda has been expanding aggressively in the market. The company -- through its fully-owned subsidiary Honda Motorcycle and (HMSI) - has already launched a 110cc bike 'Dream Yuga' that is in direct competition with Hero's best-sellers Splendor and Passion models as well others from Bajaj Auto. Hero's sales in the first-half of this fiscal are under pressure just as HMSI has witnessed a big surge in volumes.

Hero's volumes in the April-September 2012-13 period are down 3% at 28.94 lakh units just as HMSI saw numbers go up by 49% 12.90 lakh units.

Will Hero Motocorp prove it or not?

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