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NEW DELHI: As it charts out a solo journey after the split from long-time partner Honda, the Munjal-family run two-wheeler company Hero MotoCorp has appointed a top automobile designer from Germany’s BMW as the head of its R&D division.

Markus Braunsperger has been associated with the German auto major for a long time, heading the R&D function for BMW’s Motorcycle division for several years. A biking enthusiast, Braunsperger has worked at senior positions across BMW’s R&D, production and strategy divisions.

He has also been associated with the company’s car division, being responsible for project management for BMW’s key product lines such as the 5/6/7 series as well as X3, X5 and X7 models.

Braunsperger will report to Hero vice chairman Pawan Munjal as the company works on developing new models for the Indian as well as international markets. While the split with Honda happened in early 2011, the Japanese auto major had brand and technology with Honda till the end of June this year.

Munjal has been making efforts to beef up the R&D capability of Hero Moto as the company builds up the crucial function from scratch. Last year, he had hired Markus Feichtner from the globally-renowned engine specialists, Austrian firm AVL to lead the “Engine Design & Development” division within Hero’s R&D function.

Braunsperger will join Hero in the first week of October and will take charge of the company’s design and product development functions. He is expected to drive in synergy between all of Hero’s technology partners — Erik Buell Racing (EBR) of the US, Engines Engineering of Italy and AVL of Austria.

Hero, which holds 49.2% stake in EBR, will be launching the first of its completely new products — the HX 250R and the hybrid scooter Leap in the second half of this financial year.

Braunsperger is expected to engage closely with the Hero team to work on the future product line of the company. He will lead the 500-strong team of engineers at Hero’s R&D function.

This R&D function will be based out of the company’s upcoming “Hero Centre for Global Innovation and Research & Design” at Kukas near Jaipur.

Hero has developed three new engines to be fitted into its new products — 100cc, 110cc and 250cc engines. The 250cc engine will be with new Hero HX250R, expected to hit Indian roads in the second half of this fiscal. The 100cc and 110cc engines — with higher fuel efficiency and better overall performance — are likely to be fitted in the new commuter range of bikes that Hero is planning to launch.

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