Ever since the world got to know about the split between Honda and Hero, everybody has been writing the Indian maker off and there are many reasons for that. Since the partnership was called off, if you notice, Honda has been very aggressive but despite having everything there, Hero has been very wavy with its show of strength.
In all the press conferences I have seen in these 4-5 years, Pawan Munjal and his team have just been trying to plead people to ‘believe in Hero‘! But the problem is with their extremely commuterish mindset.
The 2014 Auto Expo’s show of power was absolutely uncalled for – you showcased a 600 cc machine which we now know, you are incapable of producing in the coming 10 years! And after 3-4 years of first unveil, you go on to kill the most exciting HX250R, by saying that you will not produce it because the ‘game has moved on‘…? Who was stopping you to produce it when the ‘game was still there‘?
They understood their mistake and the 2016 Auto Expo show was much more muted and then at the 2018 Expo they went absolutely dry.
Despite the fact that you are being told that they have a new big CIT, massive spend on R&D, terrific focus on premium products – what is eventually coming out is barely anything to write home about!
For instance, they showcased a 125cc scooter Dare way back in 2014 (along with a 150cc ZIR), but after a delay of four years all they are set to launch is the same Maestro Edge (and Duet) by boring out 13-14 more ccs from the same engine! Except Mahindra no major manufacturer has done that before. If you really want to make a dent in the 125 cc stable you should have done two things – one, launched a 125cc scoot few years back when there was no competition and two, introduced an all-new product (at least from the look of it!). So isn’t this taking the shorter route and expecting success?
Coming to the motorcycle category – the 200cc segment which is supposed to be the ‘sports’ segment in India, is about to witness the most commuter-ish motorcycle ever – Xtreme 200R. Hero should be guilty of creating a commuter out of a sports segment. Here again, they are taking the shortest route possible – instead of developing a new indigenous engine, they have just taken Honda’s 150cc motor and rebored it to come to this configuration.
Now, all of you reading answer this simple question – Does Xtreme 200R have any aspirational value? Will you buy it over the Apaches and Pulsars of this segment?
The point is – you look absolutely confused Hero and these stop-gap arrangements will not yield you results. You have not launched a single interesting really-grounds-up product till now. Apart from your bread-earners (100-125ccs), you have lost in every other segment in all these years! You will have to shed your reliance on your commuters – with an open mind! And this will require real efforts and skimming through the very basics will not save you from the fury of your erstwhile partner, and others!