Hero teams up with EBR for super bike technology

Auto firms’ first jointly developed model set to roll out in 2013

Hero MotoCorp on Wednesday forged its first strategic partnership post split with Japanese partner Honda Motor to develop independent two-wheeler development capabilities. The world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturer by volumes has joined hands with the US super bike company Erik Buell Racing (EBR) to source design and technology. The first jointly developed model powered by EBR’s technology will be rolled out in 2013 that will be followed by EBR’s high-end locally manufactured super bikes in future.

Under the agreement signed during the split in December 2010, Hero MotoCorp can use Honda technology till 2014 by paying royalty.

“We are going for an area (super bikes) where we are completely missing, for which there is a large market across the globe. We will also be manufacturing high-end engines in India and if there is demand abroad, we would manufacture them there as well,” said Pawan Munjal, MD & CEO, Hero MotoCorp. The firm’s hybrid scooter ‘Leap’ showcased at the Auto Expo earlier this year has also been developed in collaboration with EBR. The partnership does not involve any equity ownership.

EBR (erstwhile Buell Motorcycle Company), founded by Erik Buell in 1983, started out as a motorcycle racing company but was soon bought in to by the iconic Harley Davidson. In 2009, Harley shut down the Buell unit due to economic turmoil giving shape to the new company, EBR. Since its formation, EBR has rolled out the high performance EBR 1190RS super bike within a span of two years super bike. Initially, only 100 units have been manufactured for racing enthusiasts in the US.

At present, Hero MotoCorp sells bikes in the 100 cc to 225 cc range and the partnership would enable the company to roll out higher capacity models. Munjal said that the company continues to look for multiple technological alliances in various fields. The EBR motorcycles introduced in India will be branded ‘Hero’ while the company is yet to decide branding parameters for global markets. Last month, the company had stated that it might also look to forge alliances with UK-based Ricardo and Austria-based AVL for technology.

“We will continue to focus on mass market but to become a global player, anything that we do now on will be to target the global consumer,” Munjal said. The market leader’s move follows the likes of Honda, Suzuki and Harley Davidson that have already introduced super bikes in India while homegrown rival Bajaj Auto has already tied up with the likes of Japan’s Kawasaki and Austria’s KTM for high-end motorcycles. Hero MotoCorp also plans to enter the international motorcycle race arena to boost its global brand image by sponsoring two teams for ‘AMA pro racing national guard superbikes championship’ which will take place next month in Florida, USA.

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