The threat of Hero MotoCorp branding their electric two-wheelers (E2W) under ‘Hero’ is becoming real for Hero Electric as the former announced it was ready to launch its first ‘self-branded’ model in March 2022. The companies are in an on-again-off-again feud over the usage of the 'Hero' brand in naming their products. But now matters have been taken to court.
Naveen Munjal, Hero Electric’s chief has laid an injunction in the Delhi High Court against Pawan Munjal (his uncle) from using the ‘Hero’ tag for Hero MotoCorp’s soon-to-launch range of E2W.
The EV market is gradually but surely heating up, especially the E2W segment, which has seen many new entrants. But so far, Hero Electric, headed by Naveen, is the leader in the E2W space. Hero Electric has 4,25,000 EVs on Indian roads. They have launched more than a dozen E2W models so far and have many more planned in 2022.
On the other hand, Hero MotoCorp is the world’s largest internal combustion engine (ICE) two-wheeler maker, worth $3.9 billion. But now, with the increased push towards EV in the country, all ICE manufacturers are thinking of strategies to survive into the future and Hero MotoCorp is, obviously, one of them.
Pawan Munjal’s nephew Naveen argues that Hero MotoCorp’s intention to enter the electric two-wheeler segment goes against the family division of businesses about a decade ago under the direction of Munjal family patriarch and Hero MotoCorp founder Brijmohan Lall Munjal. He assigned independent areas of business to different wings of the family. The then-lucrative two-wheeler business had gone to Pawan, while Naveen and his family got the then-nascent electric two-wheeler business.
No one then had foreseen the tables turning in favour of EVs. But now both companies are facing a potential split of market share in their respective businesses.
“Competition is not bad—it grows the market, “ says Naveen. “We have been the first ones to congratulate companies that have entered the fray in the last couple of years and welcomed them to the EV market. It is not going to be a winner-takes-all kind of a market, anyway. There is no company in the world of ICE manufacturers which can afford to ignore EV. This (Hero MotoCorp) is just another company we will be competing with and that is not something we are worried about."
But on the subject of Hero MotoCorp using the family brand name ‘Hero’ to sell electric scooters, he is less accommodative: “We have the exclusive ownership of the brand ‘Hero’ for non-polluting, green and electric or environmentally friendly vehicles for personal or commercial use. Over the past decade and a half, we have worked tirelessly to further build the legacy of the brand ‘Hero’ by journeying into electric and empowering India towards a greener future. We will take all appropriate measures to protect our rights in the brand and stop any violation of our rights in the segment. We have always worked as per the family agreements, needless to say that we will abide by the family pact and the law of the land.”
Hero MotoCorp said in an email that they will not be commenting on this matter.