It is the story of a bike which has in a way become the pride of Indian motorcycling community. It has now become a symbol of aspiration for indian youth and a dream bike for many. Its most iconic image in our mind is that of a bike traversing the rugged terrain of Himalayas and Ladakh. Yes, you guessed right we are talking about Royal Enfield. One of the most prestigious motorcycles of India. In FY 2020-21, Royal Enfield registered a sales of around 5, 75,000 bikes which is actually a decline of over 10% compared to FY 2019-20 but it is still a significant number when seen especially in the context of 50% increase in exports in the same period. The company now has 6 main models – Classic 350, Bullet 350, Meteor 350, Interceptor 650,Continental GT 650, and Himalayan cruise bike. With Classic 350 and Bullet 350 both considered to be the company’s iconic model and remains always in demand. The retro design of the Enfield bikes are considered to be its main appeal. It has become the youth icon.
Its story began in 1891 when entrepreneurs Bob Walker Smith and Albert Eadie bought a bicycle manufacturing company George Townsend & Co. Ltd from Hunt End. In 1893 they won a contract to supply precision parts to the Royal Small Arms Factory of Enfield, Middlesex. They renamed their company as Enfield Manufacturing Company Ltd. and called their first Bob Walker designed bicycle as the Enfield which was changed to the Royal Enfield a year later. In 1898 the company designed its first motorised vehicle which was produced in 1901.During World War I , the company provided its military motorcycles to British, United States, French and Imperial Russian armies. During World War II the company once again produced many military motorcycles for the allied armies. Its most iconic model was a 126cc 2 stroke Airborne motorcycle known as the ‘Flying Flea’ which can be loaded into specially fabricated parachute cradles and dropped behind enemy lines. In 1932 the company began production of the legendary bullet motorcycle..
Royal Enfield comes to India
In 1952 Royal Enfield Bullet was chosen by Indian government as the suitable motorcycle for Indian Army for patrolling in border areas. At that time, it was imported by Madras Motors to supply to Indian Army. In 1955 Enfield company partnered with Madras Motors to form ‘Enfield India’ to assemble and produce Royal Enfield Bullet at Madras in India. In 1956 the company opened at the Tiruvottiyur near Chennai and began assembling the Royal Enfield under license there. In 1970 Enfield Company closed in the U.K. but Enfield India continued production and was exporting bikes to U.K. and Europe.
In 1994 the Eicher Group acquired Enfield India . In 2002 the company launched its iconic The Thunderbird. In 2013 the company started work at its new factory opened at Oragadam, Tamil Nadu. The company acquired Harris Performance, a renowned British design and fabrication firm in 2015 to enhance its design and engineering capabilities. In the same year the company established its North American headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 2107 Royal Enfield Technology Centre was established at Bruntingthorpe near Leicester, U.K. where a team of researchers and engineers work on research and development. The company also began an assembly line at Buenos Aires, Argentina. Currently, Royal Enfield Company sells motorcycles in more than 50 countries and its global sales surpasses that of Harley-Davidson. Presently the company has many prestigious bikes including Interceptor, Continental GT and Himalayan, an adventure bike.
How Royal Enfield becomes an international Brand
In 2004 when Siddarth Lal became CEO of the Royal Enfield he divested its 13 businesses and put all money into motorcycles and trucks. According to an interview to the Economic Times Siddarth said that he had a choice either to become the leader in one industry or be mediocre in all.He chose the first alternative. He sensed an opportunity in the mid-weight motorcycles segment and put his all effort to seize it. Siddarth Lal adopted the marketing strategy which went to make the company a well known brand across India.The company built a brand around its premiere motorcycle ‘Bullet’ like creating an annual Himalayan Odyssey by branding Bullet as the rugged motorcycle.Siddharth Lal marketed the Enfield as the mountaineering bike. The company also encouraged Royal Enfield riders around the world to go for an inaugural ‘One Ride’ which now becomes an annual event one the first Sunday in April. The company also made strategic acquisitions along the way and hired some best talent across the world in its team.
This was the journey of how Royal Enfield became an international brand. It was a journey of building a great product backed by good management and marketing strategies. Under the able management and brand building done by Siddarth Lal at the helm, The Royal Enfield is now eyeing the market in the west and challenging Harley-Davidson.