New Karizma launch not soon but it will be made. Story updated according to a latest spill over of Hero’s plans in the premium segment…
Karizma brand brought Hero (Hero Honda back then) a lot of recognition in the premium segment. If the Splendors were the powersellers in the lower part of the spectrum, Karizma was the performance king. After the two stroke era it was the first motorcycle with big-bike looks and truckloads of oomph! Even today when our team members sit down to discuss the Indian motorcycling scenario, we get stuck with endless debates on Karizma vs Pulsar 220!
Karizma: Sorry Sales
Ever since Hero took matters (and the brand) in its hands, it was only a downhill ride for Karizma. The EBR-inspired 2014 editions will go down as the biggest flops in the premium space in India. Before they were withdrawn, sales volumes saw a continuous decline. For reference, Hero sold only 271 units of the Karizma (both R and ZMR) from April to October 2016 which is an average of 38 units every month. Its rival Pulsar 220 has still been selling 5000-8000 units every month.
During the course, there were some rumours of Hero planning to discontinue the brand but despite axing the motorcycles from the domestic market, they have kept the Karizma nameplate alive on their website and went onto showcase the 2018 ZMR at the 2018 Auto Expo but that is only for the export markets.
We asked Hero about it at a press conference in Delhi, many months back.
Mr Markus Braunsperger, Chief Technology Officer, Hero MotoCorp told us that they will not let the Karizma brand die. To a query on Karizma’s future he informed:
“I completely understand. To see it suffering… (nods head) No doubt it is a little bit like the premium segment where we really have been doing well. Entering into the segment first. Having received great market success. This is what we are focusing as well. To be there. Be acknowledged and valued by the customers. The brand will be there. The brand has to be there, no doubt. But give us some time. We will make the Karizma fans happy as well.”
Upon digging a little further, our sources also inform that Hero’s R&D will start work on the new Karizma soon and it is expected to be a new-generation model. It will surely be a litmus test for Hero as another failure will mean a complete death of this legendary brand.
New Karizma Launch
A recent update at Autocar Pro gives us a good hint of Hero’s plans in the premium segment, They have classified it into two sub-segments. First is the ‘Core Premium‘ which they have defined as motorcycles under (or around) 1 Lakh rupees. This will be fulfilled by the drab Xtreme 200R and the interesting XPulse – both of which are confirmed for launch this year.
The report suggests that once this segment is catered to, Hero will enter the mid-size segment (250-500cc) and there are already reports of 300cc XF3R.
So, there are two important pointers we can deduce from this ploy…
- Since Hero has shelved the HX250R project (citing ‘the game has moved onto bigger displacement’), Hero may not produce a 250 cc engine at all. So, the next engine, apart from the 200 cc of XPulse and Xtreme would be the 300. And as I believe, Karizma will be powered by this very motor! It also makes sense because the brand does have the pull and making it more powerful and upmarket should work in its favour.
- Since Hero has already announced the two ‘Core Premium’ launches for this year, consider their plate full and they can not stretch themselves to fit in another premium model, for sure! So, safely assume that Karizma (or any other 300cc) is NOT coming this (financial) year. Moreover, this 200cc engine is an offshoot of Honda’s 150cc engine (yes, its a rebored version of the 150 used on Xtreme Sports, Unicorn etc) and hence it is relatively easy to manage. However, since the 300 will be all-new engine do not expect Hero to be very confident about it and they are sure to take time to test it thoroughly! And therefore, new Karizma, at best, is expected to be a 2019 or 2020 launch candidate.
Back around 2014-16, Hero was trying to be too fast and announced and showcased a lot of products – just to let people believe in them that they can also walk solo. However, four years later nothing interesting has come out of their stables so far. We have done a related story here. We just hope in the coming two years Hero genuinely gets us sportier motorcycles.