Nov 12, 2007

8 Hero Honda the Pioneer, Bajaj Auto the Fast/Smart Follower

Survival of the Fastest..?? Or survival of the Smartest..??

Here is a "Desi" two wheeler trivia for you..??

  • Which company brought the first 100 cc four stroke bike in India..??


  • Which company brought the first 150 cc four stroke bike in India..??


  • Which company provided the front disc brake on a 150 cc bike in India..??


  • Which company brought the first 135 cc four stroke bike in India..??


  • Which company brought the first 200 "plus" cc four stroke bike in India..??


  • Which company provided alloys wheels as standard in India..??


  • Which company provided LCD display on the speedometer on a bike in India..??


  • Which Company brought the first "Fuel Injected" bike in India..??


Did someone say Hero Honda..?? Yes..!! Yes, it indeed is Hero Honda.

Ever since Hero Honda overtook Bajaj Auto as the largest two wheeler manufacturer of India (and subsequently, the World), it still enjoys the Numero Uno position with almost 50% marketshare. So how can Bajaj Auto claim itself to be "Distinctly Ahead" as it proclaims itself after every other recent Bajaj commercial..?? Is it just another marketing gimmick?



Hero Honda truly has been the pioneer:

Hero Honda has really made some pioneering launches. There is no second opinion about that.




    1985: 100 cc Hero Honda CD100

    Hero Honda CD100Hero Honda CD100 was India's first 100 cc 4 stroke bike.. it was launched at a time when 2 stroke scooters and motorcycles ruled roost in India. Actually as revealed in this story,

    "It was Munjal's long cherished desire to produce scooters, destiny had other plans. It was a blessing in disguise."


    So it was good luck that after 10 years of starting production of the CD100, motorcycles actually found favor among Indian consumers over scooters. Nevertheless Hero Honda have to be credited to have produced and marketed India's first 100 cc CD100 which paved the path for these new generation 4 stroke machines.


    1998: 150 cc Hero Honda CBZ

    Hero Honda CBZBy the fag end of 1998, I was in my first year of engg. and I accidentally happened to see the first pics of this bike on the cover page of "Overdrive" Magazine..

    Initially I mistook it to be a foreign bike but then to my shock I realized that it was a new offering from Hero Honda which was to be called CBZ (the "z" pronounced as the yankee "zee"). Without any hesitance I bought the magazine and in the next year I somehow managed to persuade my dad to part with Rs.66K for the then unheard of 12.62bhp producing bike (with front disc and without self start).

    So from that fateful day, my love affair with bikes started with the Hero Honda CBZ..!!


    2003: 223 cc Hero Honda Karizma

    Hero Honda KarizmaBy 2003, the Bajaj had stolen the thunder very much from the Hero Honda CBZ with its Pulsar twins the Pulsar 150 and the Pulsar 180. The Pulsar 150 matched the CBZ in power and was better in refinement at high rpm, returned better mileage and was also substantially cheaper than the CBZ. To make matters worse, the Pulsar 180 with 14.7bhp on tap (back in 2001) was the undisputed leader among the performance bikes in India.

    By 2003, thanks to it 100cc models spearheaded by the Splendor, Hero Honda was firmly in number one position. But it had to do something in the premium segment to take away the crown from Bajaj Auto as the leader in the performance segment too. Voila..!! India gets the Karizma from Hero Honda, a 223 cc bike producing 17 Ps of peak power.




Apart from these, Hero Honda had also launched the Ambition a 135 cc bike in 2002, much before Bajaj Auto's Discover 135 DTSi (2007). In 2006, Hero Honda launched the 125 cc Hero Honda Glamour "Fi", India's first fuel injected motorcycle. The Fuel Injected Pulsar 220 DTS-Fi was launched officially only in 2007.

So till, now Hero Honda has been the pioneer in introducing new products and pushing up the envelope of biking in India.




Bajaj has been the fast/smart follower:

There is absolutely no doubt that in terms of number of total sales, Hero Honda is still ahead of any other competitor in India. But this is because of its 100 cc bikes. In the 125 cc and above premium segment, Bajaj Auto has a dominating 50 % of market share. This has been possible because Bajaj Auto has been the fast/smart follower. Instead of trying to chase Hero Honda with similar 100 cc bikes, Bajaj Auto has captured the leadership position in the premium segment thanks to Hero Honda..!!



Thanks to Hero Honda..?? How..??

For any new product to be accepted, the market conditions have to be ready for that. In mid nineties Hero Motors tried to bring in BMW bikes in India with a price tag of about 4.5 lakhs. Needless to say, it was a miserable flop. The market at that time was just wasn't ready for such bikes.

Hero Honda has been responsible for making the market ready for the premium bikes of Bajaj.

Bajaj Pulsar Ad

  • Hero Honda CBZ prepared the market for 150 cc bikes in India which was subsequently taken over by the Pulsars thanks to their constant up gradations, better fuel efficiency and clever pricing.



  • Similarly the Karizma launched in 2003, has prepared the Indian market for 200 Plus cc bikes.


Bajaj has been smart enough to use the same Pulsar platform to push the envelope further with the 180 cc in 2001 and now the 220 cc Pulsar in 2007. Using the same platform has ensured that there are tremendous cost savings. Also by just using the same brand name "Pulsar", Bajaj have saved itself crores of rupees which would have other wise gone into costly brand building exercises.



Conclusion:

Its clear that Hero Honda indeed has been the pioneer in introducing new bikes but Bajaj auto has been the shrewd and smart fast follower.

Right now the Pulsar 220 DTSF-i with "20 bhp", "Fuel Injection", the "Rear Discs", the "Fat" tubeless tyres, the projector beams, the full "digital speedo" just manages to outdo the Karizma.. leaving Hero Honda with a challenge to push the envolope once again.

So will Hero Honda take the bait again this time and pull out something from its JV partner, Honda's hat..?? Just a fuel injected Karizma would be playing catch with Bajaj instead of taking the stakes higher.

So what's up Hero Honda..?? A 300 cc with fuel injection..?? Maybe a 250 cc twin..?? Or will Bajaj take the initiative this time and surprise us all..??








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Disclaimer:

This is to remind that the Views or Opinions in the blog are entirely mine unless explicitly stated. The Views and Opinions published in this blog should in no way be related to any other person or organization associated -- directly or indirectly -- with me.




8 Comments:

Johnny Gaddar said...

Nice follow up on Hero Honda, Payeng. Hero Honda has been pioneer in biking for me personally. But I think Bajaj has just begin to develop itself. Bajaj will definantly doing a lot more to outpast, Honda. In return Honda will easily push its bikes further. Its pretty good for new bike buyers.

Payeng said...

I agree..

road-yo said...

Umm, if I'm not wrong ....

"Which company brought the first 200 "plus" cc four stroke bike in India..??" .... it was Royal Enfield with the Bullet.

"Which company provided alloys wheels as standard in India..??" .... Royal Enfield again with the Fury.

DIESEL said...

One of the best write ups in your blog.
Keep it up, really good one!

Payeng said...

thanks Diesel,


@ road-yo,

I totally agree with you that Royal Enfield Bullet was the first 200 cc plus 4 stroke in India (the Bullet back in the 1950's)

And the Enfield "Fury" came with with alloys and if I am not wrong, with front dics as well..!!



But then comparing Royal Enfield with any other bike maker would not be fair.. A Royal Enfield is a Royal Enfield.. it has no parallels.

Pramod Singh said...

I believe it same for every industry, the number 2 and number 3 are the company who has to displace the number 1, so these 2 and 3 has to act smart to overturn number 1, but but in this race, you always see number 2 and 3 fighting and number 1 getting the time catch up with the "NEW" exclusive introduced by 2 and 3 and come up with a "balance", this is what I believe is happening here with HH, Bajaj and TVS Bajaj and TVS are fighting for the space and HH is taking it own time to learn and come up with something that will keep it position "as is". Unless there is some thing very inovative and incomparable these is the way it will run ...

Anonymous said...

I always thought Payeng was biased towards Bajaj but this post has changed my opinion about him. Its good to know that you have unbiased views, Payeng!

Pramod Singh said...

I believe it same for every industry, the number 2 and number 3 are the company who has to displace the number 1, so these 2 and 3 has to act smart to overturn number 1, but but in this race, you always see number 2 and 3 fighting and number 1 getting the time catch up with the "NEW" exclusive introduced by 2 and 3 and come up with a "balance", this is what I believe is happening here with HH, Bajaj and TVS Bajaj and TVS are fighting for the space and HH is taking it own time to learn and come up with something that will keep it position "as is". Unless there is some thing very inovative and incomparable these is the way it will run ...

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