Brijmohan Lall Munjal: The visionary who transformed Hero MotoCorp into a global two-wheeler giant
On the occasion of Brijmohan Lall Munjal's 100th birthday, evo India pays homage to the extraordinary journey of this visionary leader, who played a pivotal role in establishing Hero MotoCorp as the world's largest two-wheeler manufacturer. Munjal's unwavering dedication, business acumen, and commitment to excellence propelled a humble bicycle component manufacturer to a global powerhouse. Let us delve into the remarkable evolution of Hero MotoCorp under his inspiring leadership.
The Early Years and the Rise of Hero Cycles
Brijmohan Lall Munjal, born on July 1, 1923, in Kamalia, Punjab (now in Pakistan), embarked on a transformative journey that would reshape the Indian automotive landscape. The Munjal family relocated to Amritsar and later settled in Ludhiana, where they established a bicycle spare parts business in 1944. Despite the challenges of partition, the family persevered and ventured into bicycle component manufacturing in the early 1950s.
The Turning Point: Hero Cycles and Industrial Expansion
In 1956, Hero Cycles received an industrial licence from the Punjab government to manufacture bicycles, marking a significant turning point in the family's business. With Brijmohan Lall Munjal at the helm, Hero Cycles experienced rapid growth and eventually became India’s largest bicycle producer. Munjal's relentless pursuit of excellence and astute understanding of the Indian market laid the foundation for the company's future success.
Collaboration with Honda and the Birth of Hero Honda
Munjal's visionary outlook led to a transformative partnership with Honda Motor Co. Ltd. In 1984, Hero Cycles joined forces with Honda, forming the iconic joint venture known as Hero Honda. This collaboration merged Honda's technical expertise with Hero's manufacturing prowess, resulting in the production of the first Hero Honda motorcycle, the CD100, in 1985.
The Hero Honda Era and Global Recognition
In 1987, Hero Honda produced 1 lakh motorcycles. Under Munjal's guidance, Hero Honda witnessed remarkable growth and became a household name in India. The JV’s success earned the respect and admiration of industry peers, establishing Munjal as a pioneer in the Indian automotive landscape. In 2001, Pawan Munjal, the second son of Brijmohan Munjal, assumed the role of managing director and chief executive of Hero Honda. Coincidentally, that very year witnessed the company's ascent to become the world's largest two-wheeler manufacturer in terms of volume—a position that Hero MotoCorp has steadfastly maintained to this day.
From Hero Honda to Hero MotoCorp
As 2010 approached, Munjal and his team harboured ambitions to expand beyond Indian borders and set up manufacturing facilities and sales networks in international markets. However, the existing alliance with Honda presented a challenge, as Honda already had a presence in several countries where Hero aimed to establish itself. In 2011, Hero MotoCorp emerged as a standalone two-wheeler manufacturer following its separation from Honda. This transition marked a new chapter in the company's evolution, enabling Hero MotoCorp to explore global markets and expand its product portfolio.
A Lasting Legacy
Brijmohan Lall Munjal's contributions to the Indian automotive industry cannot be overstated—his leadership and unwavering commitment to excellence transformed Hero MotoCorp into a global two-wheeler giant. Munjal's reputation for going the extra mile to support employees, dealers, and partners earned him immense respect. Hero Motocorp is currently the world’s largest two-wheeler manufacturer by volume. The company currently exports its products to 29 different countries and has a valuation of over $4 billion.
The Government of India presented Brijmohan Lal Munjal with the Padma Bhushan in 2005 for his contributions to business and industry. He was also awarded the Forbes India Leadership Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2014. He passed away on November 1, 2015, leaving a profound void in the automotive industry.
To honour the 100th birth anniversary of Brijmohan Lall Munjal, Dr Pawan Munjal, Executive Chairman of Hero MotoCorp, led the momentous 'Founder's Ride.' A convoy of 100 riders embarked on a 100-kilometre journey, symbolising the 100 years of Munjal's extraordinary legacy. This ride was a heartfelt tribute to the visionary leader who shaped Hero MotoCorp into a global powerhouse. In addition to the Founder's Ride, Hero MotoCorp has organised a series of company-wide activities throughout the centennial year. These initiatives include blood donation drives across plant locations, corporate offices, and zonal offices, along with community-focused initiatives that reflect the core values and principles of Brijmohan Lall Munjal.
On this momentous occasion, evo India pays homage to the late Brijmohan Lall Munjal, a true legend in the Indian automotive industry. His vision, determination, and entrepreneurial spirit transformed Hero MotoCorp into a global force, leaving an indelible mark on the two-wheeler landscape. As we celebrate his 100th birthday, we remember the extraordinary journey of a man who started with a single step and led Hero MotoCorp on a remarkable journey of millions of motorcycles.