A year after ending its partnership with Japanese auto major Honda Motor Corporation(HMC), Hero Group launched a motorcycle, the Impulse. On Wednesday, it unveiled three other products. Sunil Kant Munjal, joint managing director, Hero MotoCorp, spoke to Sharmistha Mukherjee on the roadmap for India's biggest two-wheeler maker.
The commuter segment has been the forte of the Hero Group. Yet, the first product to be introduced under your own brand name has been the Impulse 150cc. Is this a conscious attempt to focus more on the premium segment?
We launched three completely new products today —one scooter and motorcycles in the 110cc and 125cc segments. When we introduced the Impulse, we created a completely new category, and it has been received well. There is significant demand for products in niche segments. As the economy grows, we will have to evolve with requirements in the market.
Can Hero now develop a product from scratch?
The company has existing capability to design and develop variants and engineer modifications on products. Technological work is in progress in and outside the company. We have tie-ups globally. To build a new product from scratch — that capability is being worked on currently.
Exports account for two per cent of your overall sales. Hero has expressed its intention to gain 10 per cent of volumes from international operations by the end of the decade. How will that happen?
We are looking at entering markets in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia. Work is on schedule to foray into emerging economies. It is a new initiative for us. It would not be correct of me to pre-empt and say what route we will be adopting to enter these markets at the moment.
What thoughts went behind the termination of the agreement with HMC?
Hero and Honda partnered successfully to sell two-wheelers in the Indian market for 27 years. But it was time for us to get into a new mode, where, as a group we would involve our own people in the company and develop technology indigenously. We aspired to grow beyond India and take our brand overseas. These reasons induced us to go forward and talk with Honda to dissolve the JV.