Hero MotoCorp to focus on 200cc motorcycles to build premium presence starting with Xtreme 200R
Hero MotoCorp unveiled their new Xtreme 200R, a motorcycle that debuted at the 2016 Auto Expo with a promise of a 2018 launch. The motorcycle's engine is based on the Achiever 150's platform and is expected to be revealed to the public with a price at the 2018 Auto Expo that opens in Greater Noida on February 9, 2018. Hero had also showed their adventure tourer concept that XPulse at the Milan motor show late last year, billing it as an idea it was exploring. Now, this Economic Times report says there could be more fire where there appears to be just smoke. Hero could be focussed on the 200cc segment as a place to gain a foothold in the premium segment that it can use to build up and out.
The new Hero should be priced by March. Sales are expected to start in April
Hero Xtreme 200 R
The new Hero Xtreme 200R is powered by a 200cc engine producing 18.4PS and 17Nm that is based on the Achiever 150's engine but has been developed further in-house at Hero MotoCorp's CIT (Centre for Innovation and Technology) at Jaipur. The Hero Xtreme 200R visually reminds us a bit of previous Xtreme 150s. Hero has equipped the Xtreme 200R with single-channel ABS only. The Hero will face off against the TVS Apache RTR 200 and Bajaj Pulsar NS 200 as also the Yamaha FZ25 and KTM 200 Duke. Pricing is expected to be revealed only in March, while deliveries will commence in April this year.
The Hero XPulse Concept leans on existing products for components but presents the idea of a new adventure tourer
Hero XPulse Concept
The Hero XPulse is a close cousin of the XTreme 200. The Hero XPulse Concept comes inspired by and derives its technology from the company's racing arm, Hero Motosports Team Rally. CMD and CEO Hero, Dr Pawan Munjal said the Xpulse Concept shows the direction in which Hero will ride in in the future. While the company has not confirmed a launch date for India, our sources tell us that the XPulse could reach production between mid to late-2018 powered by the same 200cc motor as the Hero Xtreme 200.
The 200cc push
The Economic Times report suggests that the company has "identified the 200cc segment as the main opportunity space for us in the highly-competitive but a rapidly-growing premium segment." And it goes on to suggest that the company has multiple models slotted for launch in the next 6 to 18 months. What this tells us is that the XPulse is likely being worked on with a clear but confidential launch date in mind. The Hero Impulse is considered a sales failure but the buzz in the market for off-road capable motorcycles, and by extension the Hero motorcycle, is significant.
Hero's CTO Markus Braunsperger (left) with Hero Product Planning lead Malo Le Masson at the launch of the Hero Xtreme 200R
The strategy is simple. Hero has said earlier that while the technology needed to make larger displacement, even multi-cylinder machines, is not a challenge, getting customers to accept the idea of an expensive, premium Hero motorcycle might be. The product plan therefore was, as CTO Markus Braunsperger likes to say, "Step by step." What that means is the allow the customer to see the growth of the company's models so that acceptance is easier. Product planning lead Malo Le Masson explains that Hero is seen as a commuter-centric brand and it must transition smoothly into being seen as a maker of more than just that.
A 650cc twin-cylinder would be too jarring and the top-down approach won't work. What Hero intends to do is to extend their brand one rung at a time until the full spectrum is reached. And that means starting small - the Xtreme 200R is the perfect example of the plan.
Expect the 200cc range to fill out and as it stabilises, Hero should have larger engine capacities on offer in their showroom in time. The first step comes this April, when the Hero Xtreme 200R enters showrooms.