'Our entire model range including scooters will be BS IV-ready by April 2017.'
Hero MotoCorp is targeting gains in the 150cc market with its premium Achiever 150. Dr Markus Braunsperger, CTO, on the bike’s development, gearing up for BS IV as well as ABS and CBS fitment across the model range and export opportunities.
Hero MotoCorp is targeting gains in the premium 150cc market in India with its new Achiever 150 launched in September. Dr Markus Braunsperger, Chief Technology Officer, Hero MotoCorp, speaks to Shobha Mathur on the bike’s development, getting ready for BS IV norms as well as ABS and CBS fitment across the model range and export opportunities.
How was the Achiever’s new 150cc engine configured and how does it differ from the earlier 150cc engines?
We refined and upgraded the existing engine and did some additional work to make it BS-IV compliant so that it meets the new emission norms.
We undertook some additional mapping activities which enhance the performance on higher speed and medium load. This means the rider will experience higher smoothness, better performance in the middle rpm range and overall better driveability.
From the old Indian driving cycle to the Worldwide Harmonised Motorcycle Test Cycle (WMTC) that is in future the international standard for riding cycle, we achieve 50km per litre. The existing fuel efficiency was measured on the Indian driving cycle, which is completely different from the WMTC that is closer to customer behaviour.
The 50kpl given in the WMTC will be much closer to what the customer will experience utilising the bike and his standard activities.
What is the roadmap for meeting the BS-IV norms that come into force by April 1, 2017?
The new Achiever 150 is the second model after the iSmart Splendor 110cc to be BS-IV compliant. Development-wise, we are through and are rolling out BS-IV in our entire model range including scooters by April 1, 2017.
BS-VI emission norms come into force in April 2020. Have you started work on it at the Centre for Innovation and Technology in Jaipur?
Yes. We are very busy. This will need complete work on the bike as regards the engine, fuel system, catalytic converter and additional sensors. So there’s a huge work package ahead of us and will involve our suppliers as well including our manufacturing colleagues in the plants.
We will be ready at the latest once the legislation is mandatory and about to be introduced.
Hero has introduced the Automatic Headlamp On feature in the new Achiever 150. Can you detail its usefulness?
AHO means you always have the headlights on in any riding condition, you cannot switch them off. Once you sit on the bike and turn on the engine, the headlamp will be switched on and the bike will be much more visible for any traffic approaching from the front. It first started with the i-Smart Splendor 110 and this is a technology that we will rollout, step by step, on our other products as well.
We start much before it becomes mandatory as we think it is a big safety issue. The best is to have a rider who stays healthy and does not get injured.
What about other safety fitments like combined braking systems and ABS?
We have the advanced braking system already in our scooters; we are now working on additional features like ABS and CBS across the entire model range. These will become mandatory and this is the next programme that we are looking at in introducing advanced braking systems.
How do global requirements for a motorcycle differ?
At present BS-VI is not there but it can be compared with BS-V and still needs to be closed. We hope that in Europe it will be closed by the end of this year. But the more we go into global markets, the more we will have to focus and adopt our bike to local regulations that still exist in various countries. So rolling out our model range means more personal R&D, regulatory conformation and homologation for these markets.
Hero has a manufacturing facility in Colombia. How is it faring and are you looking to set up an R&D centre there?
We are present in over 20 markets and our expansion plan focuses on another 10 markets where we have opportunities. We will then evaluate what we have in terms of products and then take a call on which market we should enter and when.
The Centre of Innovation and Technology (CIT) in Jaipur is already global, so we do not need any R&D centre in any additional market we enter. We might look into additional opportunities with engineering partners but the R&D centre will remain CIT and it is currently working on all our vehicles.
Right now, we have a defined ecosystem and partner with our suppliers and this ecosystem will deliver all the products ahead of us. We are not looking for more partners because if you have 20 engineering partners, handling them is a huge issue.
I understand that Hero was facing some issues with its partner Magneti Marelli. Your comments.
Thankfully, we tied up a joint venture with Magneti Marelli which is one of our key partners for developing fuel systems, which helps us and them to roll out fuel injection systems throughout our model range. Each partnership starts with development work to get the products ready, to get them manufactured locally to get the cost benefit and be useful and a business success for our partner and for ourselves.
There are always hiccups if you have development work but we are able to solve all hiccups as we are highly professional and they are highly professional. So we are on the move.
How much handholding is required by Hero for its suppliers to keep them in sync with development work?
Actually it’s always handholding with partners. As we move into new technologies and new features, we or our suppliers develop them which defines the engineering collaboration between us.
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