Vida, Hero MotoCorp’s proprietary brand of electric vehicles, is not looking to generate large volumes for its first set of scooters, says Pawan Munjal, chairman and CEO, Hero MotoCorp. The world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturer launched its first couple of electric scooters—the V1 Plus and the V1 Pro on Friday. Speaking on the sidelines of the launch of Vida’s launch event, Munjal says that the company also plans to imminently start exporting the scooters to the European, Latin American, and Asian markets.
“We have some distributors in Europe who came for the launch event, and have shown great enthusiasm. We have joint ventures in Colombia and Bangladesh, for instance, which is why we are looking at these markets,” he adds. Hero MotoCorp has a 68% stake in HMCL Colombia SaS, through HMCL Netherlands BV, its wholly owned subsidiary, to sell and distribute its products in Colombia. The company also has a joint venture in Bangladesh with the Nitol Niloy Group—where it set up its first overseas manufacturing facility. According to Munjal, the company will start exporting its scooters within the next year.
The only other OEM that is looking at exporting its electric scooters is Bajaj Auto. The Pune-based automaker has said that it has received interest to export its Chetak electric scooters from different international markets. “We are seeing strong demand from our distributors in LATAM, in some of the ASEAN markets, and our partner KTM has expressed strong interest in distributing Chetak electric scooters in Europe. We are a global company, and we are hoping demand should come from all over the world for the Chetak,” said Rajiv Bajaj, MD and CEO, Bajaj Auto in an interview.
Another aspect where Bajaj Auto and Hero MotoCorp inadvertently agree upon is the fact that they are not fixated at driving volumes with their electric scooter. “Yes, we have launched a premium product, but this is not the last product that we intend to launch. It also does not mean that we will only launch a product in this price range,” says Munjal, when asked about the steep price of the Vida V1 Plus and V1 Pro—which start at ₹1,45,000 and ₹1,59,000, respectively (ex-showroom). This price is inclusive of the FAME subsidy but does not include subsidies from individual state governments. Hero MotoCorp will start bookings of the scooter in three different cities across India, namely Delhi, Jaipur and Bengaluru. However, Munjal says that Hero MotoCorp will take bookings from eight more cities by December.
Bajaj concurs with Munjal. “Scaling up is not our number one priority at this stage. We are aware that we are dealing with a completely new animal, and we must get the technology, the quality, and the customer experience right. It is about R&D, the supply chain, and what happens at the dealerships — where the rubber meets the road. So, we are not in a tearing hurry to make millions of Chetaks. We will be selective about the cities we go to in India,” he added.
While Munjal acknowledges the vast dealer network Hero MotoCorp has as an advantage, he says that the Vida scooters will not be sold at every dealership. “Dealerships are a huge strength for us; we will utilise it. However, not every dealership will not sell Vida scooters. There are certain requirements for a dealership,” he says, without divulging into the requirements. Currently, Hero MotoCorp will have three experience centres across the three cities where it will first take bookings. One of the experience centres, according to Munjal, is dealer-driven. There will also be pods within existing Hero MotoCorp dealerships, where potential buyers can experience the products. “However, deliveries will either happen at the experience centres, or at homes of the customers,” he adds.
Munjal also says that the company will install public charging stations instead of dealerships. “Where is the space to have a charging infrastructure in a dealership? It’s not just the chargers; the vehicles also need space to charge,” questions Munjal. On asked why the company launched electric scooters, he says that it was in-line with the trends in the Indian market—where electric scooters have a far better rate of adoption than electric bikes. The products were first slated to be launched on July 1—on the birth anniversary of Brijmohan Lall Munjal—but the company was compelled to defer the launch, citing supply-chain issues. “Supply-chain issues are behind for us. Alternate arrangements were made. We also roped in new suppliers to make up for the deficit,” he adds.