India’s largest motorcycle maker says factories to open in a month

Hero MotoCorp Ltd., the India’s largest maker of motorcycles and scooters, expects all of its factories to reopen within a month, as manufacturing activity gradually picks up in India after Prime Minister Narendra Modi eased some restrictions during a nationwide lockdown.

By: Bloomberg
| Updated on: 14 May 2020, 17:39 PM
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Hero bikes and scooters (Representational Image)
Hero bikes and scooters (Representational Image)

The company has already opened half of its six facilities in India, Chairman and Managing Director Pawan Munjal said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. It opened another factory in Colombia and has started dispatching vehicles to countries like Ecuador and Bangladesh, Munjal said.

Also Read : Hero MotoCorp sells 10,000 units within days of resuming retail operations

“The pandemic chose a very bad timing. Our industry, the automotive industry, was already going at a very slow pace for the last two years," Munjal said. “Having said that, we are already seeing some sparks of light."

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While Modi has eased some restrictions, India will enter the fourth phase of the lockdown next week and there are no details yet on how that phase could be different from the strict stay-at-home order so far. Indian automobile makers, including Maruti Suzuki India Ltd., the nation’s top carmaker, had zero local sales last month, as factories remained shut and migrant workers went back to their villages.

The virus has fundamentally changed the shop floor and personal protective equipment will become a necessity now, Munjal said.

“As we go back to work, we’re going into a new world, we’re leaving behind the old world. The new normal is here to stay," Munjal said. “We will be wearing masks, we will be wearing gloves and some us will be wearing Hazmats. People coming back to the factory are already doing that."

Hero, which has seen about 40% of its dealerships reopening since curbs were eased May 4 and sold 25,000 motorcycles since then, is already seeing encouraging signs of revival, Munjal said. Later on Wednesday, Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is due to elaborate on a financial stimulus package that Modi announced on Tuesday.

“They’re trying to cover a very vast canvas of the economy -- various types of people, the workers, the laborers, the industry," Munjal said. “I am very hopeful that from today onward, we are going to hear some really very encouraging announcements from the finance minister."

Hero, which typically makes smaller motorcycles compared with those manufactured by the likes of Harley-Davidson Inc. and Suzuki Motor Corp., dominates the Indian market with cheaper offering. It has sold more than 90 million scooters and motorcycles around the world so far. The company has become a household name in the South Asian nation by hiring celebrities like golf legend Tiger Woods and Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli as brand ambassadors.

Also Read : Hero MotoCorp announces price hike on all models, detailed list inside

Hero shares rose as much as 7% before closing about 3.5% higher in Mumbai. They have fallen almost 11% this year, giving the company a market value of $5.8 billion.

First Published Date: 14 May 2020, 17:39 PM IST
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