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Hero MotoCorp Ltd founder and executive chairman Brijmohan Lall Munjal has relinquished his duties and his son Pawan Munjal has been appointed chairman, managing director and chief executive, the two-wheeler company said on Monday.

“The board took up this matter during its meeting today as per the desire expressed by Dr Brijmohan Lall to relinquish his duties as the executive chairman of the company," the company said in a statement. He will now hold the position of chairman emeritus. Munjal will serve on the company board as a non-executive director.

Munjal is credited with creating a web of strong relationship among suppliers and dealers. “He always believed in quality in giving before quality in taking and it has earned him a lot of respect among his peers. That’s the reason why you have so many loyal suppliers and dealers," said Gita Piramal, a business historian and post-doctoral fellow at Oxford University.

Hero forged an alliance with Japanese auto maker Honda Motor Co. in 1984 to make motorcycles, giving the company a platform to make the leap from being a maker of cycles, auto components and mopeds. If Honda brought Japanese technology to the venture, Hero’s contribution was its understanding of the market and Indian consumer behaviour.

The senior Munjal was betting on India’s growing population and the need for affordable mobility in a country that was then moving slowly out of a regime of permits and controls—the so-called Licence Raj.

The two companies called off the joint venture in 2011—at 27 years, one of the longest in the history of the Indian automobile industry.

Hero MotoCorp continues to command 50% share in the domestic motorcycle market in India, but it now faces a bigger challenge—how to come out of the shadow of Honda’s technological excellence.

It has sold as many as 50 million two-wheelers in the country and aims to sell 100 million by 2020.

In August 2013, Hero announced plans to enter 50 markets by 2020 with a target of 20 manufacturing facilities across the globe and an overall annual sales of 60,000 crore. It aims to get 10% of its annual sales from overseas markets, or around one million units, by 2017.

But, four years after the separation, the company is yet to come out with a product that it has developed indigenously and experts continue to question its technological independence post-Honda. Pawan Munjal, who has been at the helm since 2011, will look to change that and steer the company to a new phase of growth.

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