AgVoice | Sweet mother of Jesus - a diesel bike!
A lot of talk was doing the rounds once Hero and Honda split to go their separate ways. Hero MotoCorp, to prove that they could manage themselves quite well despite no support from Honda, went shopping around the world.
Hero MotoCorp acquired 49.2% shareholding in EBR (Erik Buell Racing) and everyone was surprised. People even mocked and said Hero was doing this the wrong way. Then, an alliance with Engines Engineering of Italy and with a company that no one can pronounce - Anstalt für Verbrennungskraftmaschinen List (AVL) – followed, and all the critics said that HMC was showing signs of desperation.
I, secretly, always had great faith in the way HMC was going about its business. Its stake in EBR was the first sign of things to come, and look what they are doing now! The so-called critics, you cynical morons – eat your words, I say.
A couple of days ago, HMC surprised the entire media fraternity – surprisingly, in a good way. That’s a rarity. Mostly, stuff coming out of the facilities of Hero comprised of mechanical products that were almost absolutely the same, save for some new decals and paint work. That was mundane and boring. Even a 3-year old kid could paint and put stickers if you’d allow that to happen. Not that you would – Indians always try and control a child’s actions and imagination so that it’s not socially embarrassing for them.
Anyway, what we experienced was a packet of genuinely courageous things from HMC. I must laud Mr. Pawan Munjal, Mr. Anil Dua, and the entire team at HMC for their innovative and radical thinking.
Hero MotoCorp unveiled five products during a press conference in Delhi on 29th February. It was the usual affair – 5-star hotel, a hall to accommodate people, a stage and music fanfare, an emcee – the whole 9-yards. But no one told you perhaps that it was a tight affair – so tight that we could feel each other’s breath on our necks and walking about in the hall tested the pain absorbing capacity of the person whose feet you invariably stepped on.
Nevermind, the main deal was the products and my God did they impress! No, I’m not being satirical.
Things started with the Xtreme Sports. Ok, no matter how much marketing spiel is given, the fact remains that the Xtreme Sports is just the Xtreme with a ‘Sports’ sticker on it. The Dash, a 110cc scooter, too, is just that – a scooter. But things started getting interesting after this. The Leap looks promising. It’s touted as India’s first electric-serial-hybrid scooter and is quite a novel solution to the fully-electric products that are limited by ‘range’ or, in other words, the distance that they can go.
There are batteries – lithium-ion ones – that power an electric motor which makes 8kW. But you’ll say that’s exactly what any regular electric bike does, and you’ll be right. Only, you wouldn’t – because the Leap also comes with a 124cc conventional internal combustion engine that can act as a private generator set for the batteries. Based on how much the 3-litre fuel tank can run the engine, the power generated would charge the batteries, thereby extending the range. Theoretically, the engine should be able to give the Leap four times the range it has one on charge of the batteries. Then there’s the regular specification talk – 8kW, as I mentioned earlier, 60Nm, 100km/h top speed – stuff like that.
There’s also the HX 250R – and this one’s going to make sure that road-racers jump in excitement hearing about it. The HX 250R is, as you can guess, a 250cc product that, according to claims, would make 31bhp. Now, that’s a good power figure, and I say that because currently, the 250cc class of bikes is hovering around 25-26bhp mark. 31 would be great! Not that more wouldn’t be appreciated though. The HX 250R looks quite good – handsome even, from most angles. The front screen looks a bit bastardized for no reason, and a smaller, sleeker panel would look much better in my opinion. But this isn’t really a review, so I better shut up. The overall appeal of the bike is huge though.
But the absolute favourite of mine was the RNT. When I first saw it, I was gobsmacked – not in a good way. It looks like, er – I can’t possibly describe it in words that’ll be thought appropriate for family reading, so I won’t, and just say that it looks like a ‘thing’.
But walk away from the way it looks – because it’s designed so to serve its utilitarian purpose. What lies underneath is genuinely groundbreaking! The RNT has – and please do believe me when I say this – a diesel engine. Now, a diesel motorcycle wasn’t heard of before the Taurus by Royal Enfield. That was a crap product, but it opened up the spectrum of innovative thinking like no other product ever did.
The 150cc diesel engine in the RNT is not the only workhorse here – there’s a battery pack that delivers power to the electric motor in the hub of the front wheel. The RNT is a 2-wheel drive, er, thing, and in pure electric mode, it becomes a front-wheel drive vehicle! That’s not the end of it, surprisingly. There will be an option to add a generator which, together with the diesel engine, will be a source to deliver extra electrical power. The LED lamp in the front is removable and can be carried in hand as a torch.
Yes, I know all this may sound too berserk to some of you, but that’s your way of looking at the RNT. I think it’s a brilliant little… ‘thing’. If applied correctly, it can be a great solution in not just the agricultural sector, but some industrial sectors as well.
And Mr. Munjal made it clear that all the products that were revealed will go in production in this fiscal – that’s saying a lot about Hero MotoCorp and their new-found technical prowess! There are more tech-laden products to be unveiled by HMC at the Auto Expo – if they are even remotely close to the radical RNT, I can’t wait! | By Ashish Jha, Editorial Head – Auto, NDTV Convergence
About the writer:
Ashish hates being called a ‘senior motoring journalist’ and doesn’t quite pretend to possess astute knowledge of the automotive industry. The fact is, he is and he does. He would, however, almost immediately, pretend to have suffered from a cardiac arrest when you talk of his (short-lived) racing history. He is known for his unique nature of writing and being unbiased in his reports, which you’ll sample aplenty here onwards. | Twitter: @jha_ashish
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not reflect in any way of Adgully.