Hero MotoCorp on Friday entered the electric mobility segment by launching the first two-wheeler under the business vertical, Vida. The vehicle is available in two variants, the V1 Plus (range of 143 km) priced at Rs 1.45 lakh and the V1 Pro (165 km) for Rs 1.59 lakh. Speaking to Vikram Chaudhary after the launch, Pawan Munjal, chairman & CEO, Hero MotoCorp, said the pricing may not be disruptive, but the package definitely is. Edited excerpts:
Isn’t the price of the V1 too steep?
It’s loaded with features, possibilities, performance, and everything is best in class. It’s a disruptive package, considering that it has exceptional pre-sales and after-sales support. We’re starting with a premium product, but it doesn’t mean we won’t have a more affordable product in the future.
The launch was originally scheduled for July, but happened in October. Have the supply chain issues been resolved?
All supply chain issues are behind us. If there was an issue with a certain supplier, we have made alternate arrangements. Bookings start next Monday in Jaipur, Delhi and Bengaluru. Deliveries will start mid-December in these cities. Ramp-up will happen gradually. We will open bookings for eight more cities in December; as we ramp up production, we will keep opening bookings in newer cities.
Will you also get into the swappable battery segment?
While the V1 has removable batteries, for our forthcoming products we will have swappable batteries, which will work with Gogoro swapping stations.
Are your existing dealerships selling the V1?
Dealerships are our biggest strength and we will definitely utilise that. In Jaipur, Bengaluru and Delhi, we have an experience centre owned by us, but there will be Vida pods within existing dealerships.
Where all are charging stations coming up?
We have tied up with BPCL and HPCL and will utilise their infrastructure. Not all dealerships would have charging stations because there is limited space at dealerships.
Will every existing Hero dealer sell Vida products?
Every dealer may not be selling Vida products because Vida has its own requirement for a dealership, own specifications of a dealership and of a dealer, but all dealers will definitely be given the opportunity to sell Vida products.
While India exports a lot of cars and petrol two-wheelers, it doesn’t export electric vehicles. In the long term, will Vida become the first Indian EV brand to be sold outside India?
I see that in the short term. We have an immediate plan for Europe, and in some countries such as Latin America (like Columbia) and in Asia (like Bangladesh).
What does immediate imply?
We haven’t arrived at timelines, but it won’t take us a year; it will be much faster.
Is Vida a subsidiary of Hero? Will you get investors specifically for EVs?
It’s a separate vertical; call it a startup backed by Hero. Today, there is sufficient cash available to support emerging mobility solutions. I also believe that, at Hero, the investment needed into EVs will be lesser than some of the others because of the Hero backing.
You are one of the biggest investors in Ather Energy, and now it has become your competitor…
We are the largest shareholder in Ather Energy. We keep exchanging technologies among ourselves. Our teams are working on how to mutually use the charging infrastructure, between Vida and Ather vehicles.
While you have started with scooters, will you also enter into electric motorcycles or any other two-wheeler body type?
It is easier to start with scooters. But we have collaborated with Zero Motorcycles of California to co-develop electric motorcycles.
Will the focus now wholly shift to EVs?
We are big in motorcycles, but not so much in scooters. Vida is an opportunity for us to make it big in scooters. While many countries and companies have set dates for shifting to EVs, for a country like India, it’s an uphill task. It will happen, but the internal combustion engine (ICE) will stay in India for quite some time. We have enough and more coming up in ICE at Hero MotoCorp.