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HindustanTimes Thu,30 Oct 2014

Man who designed BMW X7 to create Hero MotoCorp bikes

Sumant Banerji, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, August 24, 2014
First Published: 22:44 IST(24/8/2014) | Last Updated: 01:37 IST(25/8/2014)

The world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturer, Hero MotoCorp, is set to appoint a senior designer with German luxury car-maker BMW, Markus Braunsperger, as the head of its research and development division coming up at Kukas near Jaipur.

Braunsperger, 51, had a successful career at BMW spanning over 25 years that saw him design the company’s flagship sedans 5/6/7 series as well as SUVs X3, X5 and X7. He has also been incharge of R&D at BMW’s two-wheeler division Motorrad, which would help him when he takes office at Hero in October.

“He is the first expat appointed to head a division at Hero MotoCorp, and will spearhead the firm’s future product development initiatives,” a senior company official told HT. “The Rs. 500 crore R&D centre at Kukas is expected to be ready by the middle of next fiscal. It will have more than 600 engineers working on Hero’s future product line.”

Braunsperger’s appointment adds to the growing trend of Indian automobile firms hiring expats to head their research and development divisions in a bid to make cutting-edge products in sync with global markets. In 2010, Tata Motors had appointed former BMW R&D head Timothy Leverton as head of engineering and R&D for passenger cars, trucks and buses.

Last year, Hero itself had roped in another expat Markus Feichtner, an expert on engines technology, to head its newly-set up functionality called engine design & development. Feichtner was earlier executive director at Austrian firm AVL’s India technical centre at Gurgaon.

After its split with long time partner Honda Motor Corp of Japan in 2010, Hero has been working aggressively to beef up its in-house R&D capabilities. It has forged technology alliances with Erik Buell Racing (EBR) of the US, Engines Engineering of Italy and AVL. The company also holds 49.2% stake in EBR.

“The facility in Kukas will be an international centre of excellence, not just in terms of its design, development, testing and validation facilities but also in terms of the diversified pool of human talent from all over the world,” Hero MotoCorp managing director and CEO Pawan Munjal has said. “It will be a multi-cultural, multi-national set up.”

Braunsperger’s appointment is likely to be followed up with more expats joining the team to enable the company design products not only for domestic but for global markets. Last August Hero had announced plans to enter 50 markets by the end of this decade with a target of 20 manufacturing units across the globe and an overall annual turnover of Rs. 60,000 crore.

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