In April, 2021, Hero MotoCorp and Gogoro announced a partnership to bring the Powered by Gogoro Network’s battery-swapping infrastructure to India. Then, in May, trademark filings with India’s Intellectual Property Office made it appear as though the Gogoro Viva electric scooter might be on its way to the subcontinent soon, as well.
The problem, as Hero Electric managing director Naveen Munjal sees it, is that Hero MotoCorp wants to use the Hero name for its own line of electric scooters—most likely including the Viva. It’s complicated, but although Hero Electric and Hero MotoCorp are run by members of the Munjal family, they’re not the same company.
Pawan Munjal runs the much larger Hero MotoCorp, which until recently had solely operated in the combustion vehicle space. Pawan is Naveen’s uncle, which as you can imagine, complicates business conflicts somewhat.
According to Naveen’s understanding, Hero Electric is wholly within its rights to defend against Hero MotoCorp using the Hero name on its upcoming electric vehicles. He says that anyone including Hero MotoCorp is welcome to make and sell electric two-wheelers if it chooses—but no one else besides Hero Electric is entitled to use the Hero name on those vehicles.
“There is a very clear agreement within the family which happened when we did the restructuring in 2010 on how the brands are going to be used. There was no non-compete (clause) as far as product segments are concerned, which means anybody could get into any segment, but there exists a very strong non-compete clause for brand usage,” Naveen told Moneycontrol in an interview.
Currently, Hero MotoCorp looks to be on track to release its first electric vehicle bearing the Hero brand name by March, 2022. For Hero Electric’s part, Naveen is threatening legal action to defend its rights to the name in the electric, green, and environmentally-friendly spaces. He added, “we are very clear on not just the spirit of the agreement, but even the wording of the agreement. There is no ambiguity in it.”
A Hero MotoCorp spokesperson told MoneyControl that Hero MotoCorp is well aware of its rights, and “will continue to act based on the best legal advice.” How this will all shake out is anyone’s guess.