Saturday, December 02, 2006

Hero Honda launches a new bike!

that has a name that my grandfather knows...

Life in the two wheeler market get more and more tougher. Hero Honda is the only surviving member of those new fangled bikes which hit India sometime in the late 80s (1987 perhaps). We had a spate of new bikes. There was the Hero Honda CD 100,(and the unforgettable "Fill it, Shut it, Forget it"), TVS Suzuki AX100R, Bajaj Kawasaki (not sure what their model was), Escorts Yamaha RX 100 and one or two more. Hero Honda CD 100 was a great bike, frugal on petrol, easy on maintenance and is the worlds largest selling two wheeler ever, until its own Splendor beat it. Much water has flown under the bridge since then.

TVS and Suzuki have parted ways; TVS showed that it was world class with its hundred percent indigenous Fiero and its Victor and followed it up with the Apache. Suzuki has since made its entry into India on its own. TVS also builds a mean scooterette.

Bajaj, once known for its tilt and start scooters (yes) has morphed itself into the darling of the biking gang with its Pulsar and its variants. This company has redefined the biking segment with its machines.

Honda has entered India on its own with its automatic scooter Activa and Unicorn a bike that performs as good as its looks. Not sure where Kawasaki is in this whole picture. Yamaha with John "biker" Abraham has grown out of the glory of its RX100.

Hero Honda, the company is making money, it is still way ahead of its competitors in the entry level segment (100 cc), but it is getting beaten in the other segments and more importantly, does not show the zeal that TVS and Bajaj have in design and development of two wheelers or their indigenous capability. It is not that Hero Honda has not tried, it did launch the CBZ (a nice looking bike IMHO) and the Karizma (whoever suggested that name?), but they were duds in the market. CBZ was wiped out by the Pulsar and the Karizma sunk like a stone.

In response, Hero Honda launches, what, the CD 100 Deluxe in the entry level segment. Sigh! The Splendor still shines for the company- it was relaunched recently as the Super Splendor. The question is for how long will Hero Honda milk its CD 100 and Splendor.

This strategy reminds me of Hindustan Motors, Premier Automobiles, Mahindra and Mahindra in the 80s, when they built their horrible cars and jeeps. They said, they understood the rural market, entry level customers until their customers rejected their vehicles. M&M understood, Premier and Hindustan never did. M&M responded with a slew of launches, and of course, the Scorpio. Hero Honda will face a fate similar to Premier and Hindustan Motors until it does something soon - the answer is not the CD 100 Super Deluxe.

Update: Rajiv Bajaj of Bajaj auto, seems to share the view that 100 cc is surely out, here.
" The 100cc/four stroke bikes are as out dated now as the 150cc/two stroke scooters were in the 90s so there's no reason why they shouldn't share the same fate,” Mr Bajaj added."


peter said...

Hero Honda Motors Ltd[HHML] has launched a new 150CC bike named as Hero Honda Hunk which is their fourth product with the previous ones being 156 cc CBZ Xtreme, 150 cc Achiever and 225 cc Karizma.
Hero Honda Hunk will be available in two versions ie kick-start and self-start and comes with a price tag of 55,000 Indian rupees and this new bike can increase hero honda’s premium bike segment share from the current 15-20% to around 25%.

buzz marketing

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