(Adds quotes, details)
By Henry Foy and Anurag Kotoky
NEW DELHI, Sept 6 Hero MotoCorp Ltd,
the world's largest maker of two-wheeled vehicles, has signed an
agreement with a European design and technology partner,
Managing Director Pawan Munjal said, its third partner since its
split from Japan's Honda Motor Co.
The Indian firm will announce the name of its new partner
Last year Hero ended a 26-year joint venture with Honda
Motor, a move that allowed it to explore new products and export
opportunities in markets where the Japanese company has a
"This company has end-to-end capability in all kinds of
two-wheelers," Munjal said, referring to the new partner, adding
that it boasts expertise in engines, hybrids and electric bikes.
"It is somebody from Europe."
In February, Hero announced a partnership agreement with
U.S. superbike company Erik Buell Racing, and in March signed a
research deal with Austrian engine manufacturer AVL.
Munjal said Hero plans to buy stakes in its technology
"It's a long-term arrangement, and there is every likelihood
that sooner rather than later we will financially get involved
in these companies," said Munjal, speaking at an automotive
industry conference. "To start with, a minority stake."
Hero, which exports its vehicles to Sri Lanka and
Bangladesh, plans to start selling them in Guatemala by October
and in Nigeria by November or December, Munjal said. It also
wants to start sales in Myanmar, he said, without giving a
Hero sales fell 11.9 percent year-on-year in August as the
company and its local rivals Bajaj Auto and TVS Motor
faced greater competition from Japanese manufacturers
such as Honda.
High interest rates in a country where most consumers borrow
money to buy vehicles, in addition to high petrol prices, have
also dampened demand for cars and two-wheelers this year.
Munjal said Hero has reduced production due to the current
slowdown, without giving details, but he expected retail sales
to pick up in October, when Indians traditionally begin to make
big purchases for the festive season.
(Editing by Daniel Magnowski)