Bracing itself to life beyond Honda, the world's largest two-wheeler manufacturer, Hero Honda, has started developing its own research and development (R&D) wing in right earnest by snaring key personnel from rivals Bajaj Auto and TVS. Hero recently appointed long-term Bajaj veteran T M Balaraman at a senior level in its R&D division.
Balaraman had retired from Bajaj 2-3 years back but the company had kept him on the rolls as a part timer in an advisory role. Hero Honda is also trying to get hold of several R&D personnel from Bajaj and TVS across the hierarchy.
The firm does not have a full fledged R&D capabilities like Bajaj and TVS and has been merely involved in increasing localisation of mobikes through component sourcing, making finished products out of the designs prepared by Honda Motor or minor tweaking and refreshing existing products.
"It is not that we have no experience in R&D at all as we have been converting Honda's designs into full fledged motorcycles," said Ravi Sud, chief finance officer, HHML. "We know how to make mobikes, but do not have design capabilities. We will develop that as well."
So far, Bajaj and TVS are not too worried with the new found poaching instincts in their arch rival. "I cant comment on the buzz doing the rounds, but if they want to hire 63 year olds from us, we will provide a list," said a senior Bajaj Auto official.
Hero Honda is also investing towards creating a new brand identity for itself for which it has hired international brand specialist Wolff Olins.