In the run up to the upcoming Auto Expo, Hero has taken the wraps off five new products.
The models include two motorcycles, two scooters and an interesting diesel-hybrid concept.
The first of these models to go on sale will be the Xtreme motorcycle, slated for a launch around April. The bike is based on the existing CBZ Xtreme but styling is quite different and far edgier than the original. Among the features of interest are the Xtreme's LED tail-lamps, rear discs and part-digital speedometer. The Xtreme will continue to use the Honda-sourced 149.2cc, single-cylinder and air-cooled engine as seen on the CBZ Xtreme. Peak power output is 15.2bhp.
Around the same time, the nike maker will also introduce its new scooter called the Dash. The Dash will target male buyers and will be powered by a new 111cc, forced air-cooled, single-cylinder motor that produces 8.45bhp. Alloy wheels, telescopic front forks, tail-mounted fuel lid, combined braking system and a mobile charging socket are some of the highlights on the smart and feature-packed new scooter.
Towards the end of the year, the company will introduce its first hybrid scooter, the Leap. True to its name, the scooter will mark a giant leap for the manufacturer thanks to its technology. The Leap will be a serial hybrid that uses a pack of lithium-ion batteries to power its 8kW (approximately 10.7bhp) electric motor. What makes the Leap unique in India is that it uses range-extender technology. That means, when the batteries run out of juice, the electric motor will draw charge from a generator linked to the Leap’s 124cc petrol engine. Note, the petrol motor will not be connected directly to the rear wheel but will be used solely to run the on-board generator. Hero has not made any claims for fuel efficiency as yet but, given the tech, you can be assured the Leap will stretch each litre really, really far. However, the Leap is unlikely to be priced at par with its petrol-engined contemporaries, so think of it more as a technological showcase for Hero than a mass-market scooter.
The company's fourth new launch of the year will be the HX250R sports bike. While its twin headlights may have a hint of Honda to them, the bike has been fully designed internally. The fully-faired sports bike looks the business and should stand out for its sleek underseat exhaust. Its 249cc, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected single-cylinder and DOHC engine should also provide sufficient go to match the show. The HX250R uses a tubular frame ala the Honda CBR250R and comes with a monoshock rear suspension. Front and rear disc brakes will be part of standard equipment while the Combined Braking System and ABS will be offered as options. The HX250R will not replace but will sell alongside the Karizma and ZMR, that are also due for updates soon.
The bike major also took the wraps off a unique motorcycle concept at the event. Called the RNT, the bike is designed for use on farms as a load-lugger, which helps explain its curious design - the extended front serves as a luggage bay. But the RNT is even more interesting under the skin. It comes with a 150cc liquid-cooled, diesel engine! Peak power is around 13.5bhp and Hero will offer a turbocharged version too! Hero is also working on equipping the RNT with an electric motor mounted in the front wheel hub. Depending on the need, the RNT could be used in diesel mode, as a full electric or with both motors working simultaneously powering each of the wheels. Yes, that’s two-wheel drive. Hero is confident such a product will have huge potential in India, however, the timeline for its launch is still not clear.
Hero has big plans for India and, on the face of it, its products look very promising. If successful, they could help Hero maintain its position as a sales leader, Honda’s charge notwithstanding.