Friday, November 21


Lift off! Royal Enfield's sales are going through the roof. 
(Photo: Geoff Osborne).
ROYAL Enfield, the Indian-based manufacturer of a range of air-cooled single cylinder motorcycles, is enjoying quite a resurgence.

For the month of September 2014, sales were up a staggering 65 per cent on September 2013, with no less than 28,020 units moved compared with 17,005 in September 2013.

By far the bulk of these sales were into the domestic market in India, where, contrary to the belief of the die-hard worshippers of the old iron-engined Bullets, the new all-alloy unit construction engine (UCE) has helped lift sales enormously since its introduction in 2010.

At the time of the UCE's introduction, there were predictions doom from the die-hards, who lamented the loss of a kick-starter, the phasing out of the old iron engine (which could trace its roots back to the 1950s) and what they claimed was the lack of 'thump'.

Fortunately, Royal Enfield management paid no heed to these people, and has increased production every month since.  In fact, demand was so strong it had to build a new factory at Oragadam, which came on stream in April last year.

But now that is starting to look stretched so it has bought another 50 acre site in Oragadam, 10 kilometres from its 18-month old plant.  There is still some production going on at the original Tiruvottiyur plant, which began assembling Royal Enfields in 1956 and by 1962 was building complete motorcycles.

Between the two existing plants, the company expects to build 300,000 motorcycles this year, and is predicting sales of 400,000 in 2015.

To put that in perspective, in the first nine months of 2014, the four Japanese manufacturers combined produced just 378,172 units in Japan, combined.

An all to familiar sight with the old cast iron engined Royal 
Enfields, something owners of the UCE powered bikes
no longer have to worry about.
The all-alloy UCE powers all current
Royal Enfield production.
Honda and Suzuki's production was down while Kawasaki and Yamaha recorded strong gains in the January - September period.  Honda made just 90,202 motorcycles in Japan in the first nine months of 2014 while Suzuki made 76,040. 

For the first nine months of 2014, Royal Enfield made 214,000 units.

And in October, its sales jumped again, up 47 per cent on October 2013, to 26,039 units.

Europe's biggest volume manufacturer, KTM, made just 107,000 units in 2013, and used more than ten different engines across that range.

Royal Enfield has just one engine, the all-alloy UCE, which is made in 350 and 500cc versions. This powers all 11 models in the Indian company's range. (Click here to view).

According to Siddhartha Lal, Managing Director and CEO of Eicher Motors Ltd., Royal Enfield’s parent company, it is the rise of the Indian middle class that has driven demand for its bikes through the roof.

In 2010, Royal Enfield sold 50,000 motorcycles.  By 2012, the number had doubled to 100,000—which led to the building of the new state-of-the-art factory at Oragadam.

Sales in 2014 look set to triple those of just two years ago.

Royal Enfield's Continental GT has added some extra dash to the Indian company's image.