The Indian Hero

Screen Shot 2014-03-04 at 7.05.32 PM


The Indian motorcycle maker Hero is a sleeping giant that is waking up. As its latest concepts show, it understands that the future is electric, and it is getting ready to conquer the world.

Based in New Delhi, Hero MotoCorp is the largest two-wheelers manufacturer in the world, with over 6 million units sold annually. It was started as a joint venture with Honda in 1984, before Hero decided to go it alone in 2011. It meant that the Indian company was now free to export its products all over the world.

In 2007, Hero created a new division, Hero Electric, which is the largest maker of electric two-wheelers in India. The Indian market for electric bikes reached a peak of 110,000 in 2011, before incentives came to an end in March 2012. Sales were only about 45,000 in 2013. Now, new incentives are programed to start next month, and it should lead to a rapid expansion of the market. Booz Allen forecasts annual sales of 4.5 millions electric bikes in India by 2020. Which will be quite a feat, in a country that has no charging infrastructure at this point, and sporadic power outages across the country…

Hero Electric and its range of electric scooters is now under the corporate umbrella of Hero Eco, which also took control of Ultra Motor, the British maker of the A2B electric bikes, in 2012. At the last Auto Expo 2014 in New Delhi, Hero illustrated its new dynamism with the presentation of several new concepts. Among them the Leap, a serial hybrid scooter, powered by a 10.7 hp electric motor with a lithium battery and a 124 cc petrol engine acting as a range extender.

Hero Leap.10.28 PM

But two electric concepts stole the show. The SimplECity is a lightweight (77 lbs.) electric bicycle with a 1 kWh removable lithium battery and no pedals. It features a 4 kW hub motor and regenerative breaking, and has a top speed of 37 mph. Your smartphone becomes the dashboard.

Hero SimplECity

The ION concept is an electric motorcycle, with a lithium-air battery, a hydrogen fuel cell range extender and super-capacitors for quick accelerations. It has hub-less wheels with electric traction motors. Top speed is 100 mph, 0 to 62 mph in 5 seconds and a range of 186 miles.

These concepts show that Hero has the technology to become a major player in the electric bike market. Its purchase of Ultra Motor with its worldwide distribution, and its recent acquisition of 49.2% of the shares of Buell, the maker of street and racing motorcycles based in Wisconsin, show that Hero is set to conquer the world.

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One comment for this post
  1. yuval Brandstetter MD wrote the 14/07/2014

    Buell? Zero’s chief engineer is a Buell refugee!!

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