It goes without saying that electric motorcycles are here and they’re here to stay. Nearly all manufacturers have expressed interest in developing new platforms, with some even joining forces in the development of new electric platforms that will eventually give birth to a wide range of models.
We’ve been seeing all sorts of manufacturers from Europe team up with brands from China and India to streamline the development of new models while at the same time leverage on manufacturing capabilities. KTM and all its sister companies have had a long-standing partnership with Bajaj – one that’s expected to bear electric fruits in the not too distant future. Zero Motorcycles also inked a deal with India’s Hero MotoCorp for the latter to sell the former’s bikes in the India market.
While most partnerships usually start with distribution agreements, they usually end up going much deeper, with the two companies joining forces in the development of new models. This indeed appears to be the case with Hero MotoCorp and Zero Motorcycles, as investor reports brought forth by Indian motoring media reveal that the two companies are working together to develop a new electric platform.
More specifically, in Hero MotoCorp's Investor Interaction report dated January 23, 2024, it was revealed that the upcoming electric platform will give birth to at least four different motorcycle models. Hero and Zero’s approach will reportedly come in two phases. The first phase will involve the release of two high-performance models, both of which underpinned by the same tech, but sporting different body styles. Up next, the partnership will offer mid-tier electric motorcycles, presumably sporting the same powertrain albeit tuned for more beginner-friendly performance.
Hero's no stranger to electric powertrains, as it's been marketing its all-electric sub-brand Vida for sometime now. The collaboration between Hero and Zero will hopefully result in bikes that sport similar tech and performance as those of Zero, but with a much more accessible price point for a wider range of riders. If Hero's slides are anything to go by, it appears that at least one model in each phase will be a street-focused machine, while the other will be sportier model with more aggressive ergonomics. To kickstart the development of the new platform, Hero secured a $60-million investment back in March 2023.
It’s important to note, however, that in the context of the Indian market, the term “high-performance” has a slightly different meaning than that of the US and European market. Typically, motorcycles with engines larger than 200cc and outputs in excess of 25 horsepower are considered high-performance in India. Meanwhile, over in the US, they’d be considered nothing more than beginner-friendly machines. While news of a joint-venture between Hero and Zero is indeed exciting, chances are even the most “high-performance” models resulting from their partnership won’t be as high-performance as Zero’s current lineup.
Currently, the Vida V1 electric scooter is the only real-world manifestation of Hero MotoCorp's electric initiatives.
With all that being said, it's clear that Hero MotoCorp has some pretty big plans when it comes to expanding its electric offerings. While at present, the only model it has in the market is the Vida V1 scooter, it certainly looks like this is soon about to change. Hero's presentation highlights a spectrum of models targeted for launch. These include mid-tier offerings, mid-premium models, and premium and high-performance models like those highlighted earlier. Judging from the company's presentation, it seems that an electric mini-bike under the mid-tier segment, as well as off-road and street-focused models in the performance and premium segments are set for development first.
Once Hero's electric offerings do hit the market, chances are they'll face competition with bikes such as the Ultraviolette F77, a popular new electric motorcycle in India. It's worth noting that the F77 is considered by many as a performance-oriented machine despite the fact it has a rather modest power output of 36 horsepower at its peak. While a launch date for Zero and Hero’s collaborative platform has yet to be penned, it’s speculated that the initial models will be unveiled sometime in 2025, with later models scheduled for launch for 2026 and beyond.