Mahindra isn’t the only Indian company to jump on the racing-as-brand-building bandwagon. Market leader Hero MotoCorp has joined in as well, making racing a key component of the attempt to reinvent its image after ending a 26-year-long joint venture with Honda in 2010. This isn’t news to American racing enthusiasts. Followers of AMA SuperBike are already familiar with the Hero name thanks to that firm’s title sponsorship of the Erik Buell Racing effort, an outgrowth of Erik Buell’s technical consultancy with the massive Indian manufacturer.
In addition to the EBR alliance, Hero has also teamed up with Austrian engine developer AVL to expand its powertrain R&D capabilities, as well as Italy’s Engines Engineering, which was recently divested by competitor Mahindra. It remains to be seen if Hero’s collaboration will be more fruitful than Mahindra’s, though the announcement of Andrea Goggi as Engines Engineering’s new Technical Director is promising. Goggi, one of Italy’s top development engineers, recently closed a 23-year career at Cagiva/MV Agusta, where he most recently served as R&D director overseeing development of both the MV Agusta F3 and F4 sportbikes.
Hero CEO Pawan Munjal envisions Hero becoming a $10 billion company by 2017, eventually selling 10 million motorcycles annually—with 10 percent of that production exported outside India. With hopes to penetrate American and European markets to drive this growth, cutting-edge product designed with the assistance of the likes of Mr. Goggi and Mr. Buell will be of the utmost importance.