Hero MotoCorp to ride into US market next year

Hero MotoCorp, India's largest two-wheeler maker, is looking to start selling bikes in the US next year, hoping to create a niche market for its products.

The company, which entered as many as 18 global markets in the past one-and-a-half years, is confident that its motorcycles will be accepted well in the US.

"For the developed western markets (US) currently, we are not that much focused on bigger motorcycles. Right now, what we are looking at is taking some of our current products and try creating a niche market," Hero MotoCorp Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Pawan Munjal said here.

Asked about the US launch, he said: "It would be in the calendar year 2015 and marketing of the products would be done through Erik Buell Racing (EBR)."

EBR, in which Hero MotoCorp has a 49.2% stake, has started appointing distributors in the US. EBR makes high-performance motorcycles for sport bike enthusiasts.

"I do believe there would be possibilities in cities (in the US) for us to create niche market for our products," he said.

Despite the US market having a bigger share of higher- powered bikes, Munjal said Hero would target smaller cities and the inter-city commuting segment.

Hero currently has bikes in the 100cc to 250 cc range, with models starting from the entry-level HF Dawn, commuter model Splendor to performance sports bike Karizma ZMR.

"Last October, we had displayed some of our products at the motorcycle show in Florida and there was a huge amount of interest from distributors," Munjal said.

The company is undergoing homologation, a process to certify road-worthiness, for its bikes in the US, he added.

Hero MotoCorp separated from Honda in 2011 and has augmented its global presence, selling products across 18 countries, including Peru, Guatemala, Turkey and Egypt.

The company has established assembly units in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda in East Africa through its distributors. It is preparing to set up a manufacturing unit in Colombia to cater to the Latin American markets.

In August 2013, it announced plans to enter 50 markets by 2020 with a target of 20 manufacturing facilities across the globe and an overall annual turnover of Rs 60,000 crore.

It is targeting to get 10% of annual sales from export markets, at around 1 million units, by 2017.

Hero MotoCorp has set a cumulative sales target of 100 million units by 2020, having crossed the 50 million milestone last year.

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