A journalist for 18 years, I have been writing on business with special focus on automobiles, commodities and management. Corporate stories are my forte but that has not restricted me from writing on diverse subjects such as sports (especially Formula 1), films, music and so on...
Hero MotoCorp may have become the global leader in the two-wheeler market when it comes to the volume of bikes manufactured and sold, but that has not prevented its chairman, managing director and CEO Pawan Munjal from dreaming even bigger. He wants to make the company number 1 in the world not just in numbers but in `every dimension’. He revealed this after a Rs 850 crore integrated R&D facility – Centre of Innovation & Technology (CIT) – was unveiled by the company. “This campus is a critical part of that dream,” he added.
The 247-acre centre located in the outskirts of Jaipur, Rajasthan, has state-of-the-art facilities for product design, development and testing including a 16 km long test track that simulates 45 different road conditions seen in India and abroad. It will employ about 500 engineers including a fair sprinkling of expatriates. “It is a giant leap for us from a 3 acre R&D facility we had in Dharuhera,” he said adding “it will deliver strategic, game changing and cost effective innovation.”
The CIT, according to Munjal, will not only develop the most fuel efficient and smart bikes/scooters but also shape the future of mobility in the country. “With the best R&D talent in place and free thinking culture that inspires innovation, we will connect the dots and stay ahead of the curve,” he said.
When fully functional this facility will take Hero MotoCorp’s product development capability to an all new level post its break-up with its erstwhile joint venture partner Honda (now its biggest challenger in the India’s market). Its existing facility in Dharuhera had been ramped up over the last few years and the in-house team had developed the Maestro Edge and Duet scooters which are tasting success in the market.
The CIT, apart from the world class infrastructure, is also one-of-its-kind facility, housing all aspects of Research and Development under one roof said Markus Braunsperger, chief technology officer of Hero MotoCorp. This facility, he explained, will not only save time but also ensure better quality of the product. It will also result in cost savings. “So far we have been importing R&D at a cost for our bikes.When we start making it here ourselves, it will save costs,” Munjal added.
Braunsperger, a product development veteren who joined the company from BMW 18 months ago, will spearhead Hero MotoCorp’s product development efforts which seeks to strengthen its products in existing segments while coming up with new ones offerings for the premium segment. Setting out his road map, Braunsperger outlined four milestones – setting up of systems, strengthening the talent pipeline, strengthening the product portfolio and fulfilling global standards when it comes to product development.
The stock market reacted not so favourably to the development. The scrip fell Rs 11 per share on the bourses closing the day at Rs 2805. Munjal, for his part, is convinced he is doing the right thing in making such a large investment. "The best way to predict the future is to create it,” he says. He is hoping that his team at CIT will help him do just that.
(Travel for the story was sponsored by Hero MotoCorp.)