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"We Plan To Foray Into International Markets"

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Two-wheeler giant Hero MotoCorp has unveiled three new products with the 'Hero' brand name - a 100 cc bike Passion X Pro and a 125 cc bike Ignitor along with a 110 cc scooter named Maestro. Sunil Kant Munjal, who has been appointed as the joint managing director of the company for a period of five years from August 17, 2011, spoke to BW's Malabika Sarkar about the company's new products and strategies on the sidelines of the Delhi Auto Expo 2012. Excerpts:

This is your first product showcase in the domestic market after the 27 year long split with Honda. What would be your strategy for 2012?
We would continue to grow at 10-12 per cent this year. However because of the current market condition and economic situation, things are expected to look rosier in the second half of the fiscal year.

Your agreement of sourcing technology from Honda will end in 2014.  Do you have the expertise to manufacture products on your own, from scratch? How the company's R&D placed?
The company has distinct capability for creating variants and modifications for a long time now. What we are now looking at is designing and building product technology. It's is obviously difficult as it was not there in the company and we are now focusing on building this capability.

Don't you think it is already late to build-up new technology?
Yes. But we could not do it because of the joint venture. It was a part of the agreement; it was not permitted to be done here.

With regard to international business, you are expecting to grow from 2 per cent to 10 per cent. Will it be only through exports or are you going to look at launching operations in other markets as well?
We have plans of foraying into new international markets such as Africa, Latin America and South East Asia but that would be in due course of time. At present we are concentrating on expanding the market and launching new products. We are replacing the brand with a brand which is already well-known.

The company's focus area was on the commuters segment but as you grow will your focus shift to premium bikes?
The company has already launched a completely new set of products. Impulse (bike), which we have recently launched, focused on the completely new segment which did not exist in the country until we introduced it. There are niche markets in this country and gradually as the market is evolving and the economy is developing, these markets are growing. As a company we hope to cater to these niche segments as well.