Hero’s four new products delayed due to EBR; first ever 125cc scooter could be launched soon according to a trusted source
The country’s largest two-wheeler brand Hero MotoCorp said last July that it wouldn’t be bidding for its bankrupted partner and US superbike manufacturer EBR (Erik Buell Racing). The Indian conglomerate acquired a 49% stake in the design consulting firm back in 2013 for $2.8 million (Rs. 150 crore) and court statement indicated that EBR showed $20.8 million in assets and $20.4 million in liabilities when it filed for receivership which was as similar to bankruptcy.
Following the departure of Honda in 2010, when Hero bought over 3,000 crore worth stake of 26 per cent, it was well known that the brand was seeking technical partners. In February 2012, it tied up with EBR and formed an alliance with AVL and Italian firm Engines Engineering. For engine systems including a new electronic FI technology, it hooked up a JV with Magneti Marelli SpA at the end of the following year.
EBR were said to be working on as many as 17 products with Hero with more focus on global markets. The Hero HX250R fully-faired performance bike, showcased at the Auto Expo 2016, was believed to be one of the models that had met with delay in development due to the uncertainty prevailed with the assets of the US marque. The other four bikes having taken a hit were said to be hydrogen fuel-cell bike iON, electric scooters Leap and SimplEcity and diesel bike RnT.
One of the people in the know seeking anonymity has told us that due to the EBR technical deal as many as four products are delayed from being launched. Hero spent more than 150 crore investment in EBR but the export plans were taken a huge blow due to the product delay like the lithium-ion battery powered Leap with a 11 bhp motor purely targetting European markets.
Our trusted source further said Hero could be launching its first ever 125 cc scooter possibly by the festive season or sometime in the beginning of next year. It puts the radar on the Leap which has a limited electric range and is strapped with a 125cc engine. Earlier this year, Hero inaugurated the Centre of Innovation and Technology (CIT) at Kukas near Jaipur. It was confirmed by Chief Technology Officer Markus Braunsperger, formerly held an important position at BMW, that a new product will be built from the ground up in the next three or four years.
Hero MotoCorp invested over 850 crores in the facility which employs more than 500 Indian and foreign engineers. The CIT spans across 250 kilometres and has a dedicated real-time track testing with a 16 km long circuit with 25 different surface conditions. It is expected to fast-track the development on new products while having the eyes fixed in the development of existing models in the commuter segment.