Royal Enfield takes middle ground for global domination

New from the 'ground-up' range of Royal Enfields coming, confirms CEO

ROYAL-ENFIELD is gambling on the void in the middle-weight motorcycle market as it launches ambitious plans to become a major global player.

Returning to England this year with a new R&D centre in Leicestershire, Royal Enfield is also bringing along its laid-back CEO Siddhartha Lal, this biker and business genius jokes his next mission is 'global domination'.

But is it a joke? Ten years ago Royal Enfield were making 50,000 bikes every year, by the end of 2015 it plans to make and sell 50,000 bikes every month. Lal has been with the brand since 2000 and has overseen this transformation.

Lal believes Ducati, BMW and Triumph - and to some extent the Japanese Big Four - have ignored an important segment in the market:- middle-weights. It is in this over-looked sector Royal Enfield will launch its stand.

'They've certainly ignored it,' he said. 'More due to their business model, I'm pretty sure most of them don't know how to make really good money on middle-weights and that's the reason they've over-indexed on heavy-weights, it's not because they don't want to do it.'

With its enormous new production facilities in India and with a design team headed by Pierre Terblanche - the man who gave us the Ducati 999 and the Multistrada - the brand is launching an entirely new range of motorcycles.

Lal said: 'We are going to have brand new motorcycles that are coming out in 2016 and 2017 that are going to be a new platform. So you are going to see ground up new stuff from us, not based on the existing platform, as soon as next year. Essentially a new engine, but everything else as well. So ground up new motorcycle with no borrowed parts or anything.'

And it's not just Europe that Royal Enfield is casting its net, it's opening up dealerships across the US and South America. It believes that the emerging markets will move up from Chinese 125cc commuters to middle-weights and the West will move down from more extreme heavyweights to embrace the middle ground.

Just don't expect anything too radical from the Indians. The range will remain rigidly within 250-750cc and with prices fixed between £2,000 up to £5,500. In fact, with every other manufacturer trying hard to be 'different', Royal-Enfield's CEO admits different is a bit of a dirty word.

He said: 'Different as a word doesn't excite us as a brand – purpose, longevity and timeless appeal and a design philosophy that if you create something now it remains relevant in 20 years, as well as exciting today.'

So what can we expect? Lal remains tight-lipped but spy-shots of an adventure bike believed to be called the Himalayan have been circulating widely. When pressed on the rumours Lal smiled but remained unruffled.

'One of the reasons Royal Enfield is still alive is really because of the Himalayas,' he said. 'The Indian Army needed a very sturdy motorcycle to patrol its borders and the toughest borders we have are in the Himalayas so we owe our continued existence partially to that. The UK is our birthplace but the Himalayas have become our adopted home and our spiritual home for decades now. The Himalayas are now part of our new DNA.'

Lal himself loves touring the Himalayas with friends on his Continental GT, and has been riding bikes since he was 18-years-old.

He's now living in the UK where he's 'imbibing' and 'decoding' our bike scene - so look out for a bloke with a beard and a Continental GT watching you tuck into a tasteless burger the next time you stop in Matlock Bath or the Ace Cafe.

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