Will Hero Re-create the Magic with EBR?
Adil Jal Darukhanawala delves deeper into the alliance between Hero MotoCorp and Erik Buell Racing from USA and traces the possibilities that lie ahead for both the entities
Hero MotoCorp has the immense foresight to see things through in the period ahead. They have a Honda hand with them till the next year and also the present crop in their portfolio will not be erased for another two to three years at the most. What Hero MotoCorp has in abundance is goodwill and great ambassadors from the billions they have sold in this country and that is something even Honda will give an arm and a leg for. Must make a point of mention here and that is the fact that the billions also owed it to the second part of the manufacturer’s name which read Honda and the Japanese numero uno is not sitting idle, knowing exactly where and which segments to target. Not in a bid to go one up on its former Indian partner but just do what the market needs and expects from the Big H! And when a determined Honda gets going, the results could be painful! Ask Yamaha that, they are still running battle scarred!
However, Hero MotoCorp starts from virtual scratch as regards its own product development capabilities. One cannot buy R&D and the technology needs to be understood and absorbed. You can fast pace this soak-up but you cannot do it overnight. This is the one chink in the armour which everyone realized as also the brave men within Hero MotoCorp themselves. So even when you get an Erik Buell or a Claudio Domenicali on to your side, there will be a certain lead time for both partners to first understand each other and then try to do things what the other wants!
The good thing is that there are no illusions within Hero MotoCorp and that’s the reason their executives have been seen doing the rounds of every decent engineering consultancy the world over trying to shore up agreements and alliances. Nothing wrong in that and also it is the done thing but I am not yet sure and confident of the produce which will result from EBR and Hero MotoCorp getting into a relationship.
After Harley-Davidson pulled the plug on the Buell Motorcycle Company, Erik Buell went back to his roots and his present set-up is all about nimbleness of mind and action. How he can get to do something for Hero MotoCorp in the genre of products the Indian company is known for would be his most challenging project ever. And given the fact that history has shown nothing works more emphatically for the Yanks than the “there’s no substitute for cubic inches” maxim, surely the lack of cubic centimetres could throw up interesting situations for the duo!
Another aspect is Hero MotoCorp’s growing ambitions to flex its production might globally and that is no bad thing. However, when the next set of emission standards progresses from Euro IV to Euro V and Euro VI, the mechanical hardware to meet not just legislation but yet continue to deliver Honda-like “fill it, shut it, forget it” performance will be under tremendous pressure. I hope EBR and Hero can cut it here on this important count.
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